MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 20: Usman Khawaja of the Thunder celebrates making a century during the Big Bash League match between Melbourne Stars and Sydney Thunder at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 20, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

The Sydney Thunder have officially released Australian Test representative Usman Khawaja from his BBL contract with the club on compassionate grounds.

The lime green franchise confirmed on Friday that the 35-year-old has triggered the release clause on his contract due to the desire to remain closer to family throughout next summer.

Khawaja, already a father of one, is expecting his second child with his wife Rachel and revealed that given his family is based in Brisbane, he believed it was no longer viable to spend any more time away from home than necessary.

Speaking to Pakistan-born batter explained that while his decision had been made, it was not one he came to lightly.

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“I hate talking about the decision I’ve made... it’s the toughest call I’ve made as a cricketer because Sydney Thunder, the players, the coaching and support staff, and the club’s supporters mean so much to me,” said Khawaja

“However, it is for family reasons, and while I’m leaving people who know me realise a big part of my heart will always remain with Thunder.

“I don’t want people to think I’ve cut my ties with Sydney Thunder because I’ll always care about the club; the players; the entire organisation.

“A part of that is because I believe I helped shape Thunder from the start. In many ways Sydney Thunder is, to me, like a baby I’ve watched grow and develop."

While Khawaja will depart the Harbour City as the franchise's leading runscorer with 1818 posted at a strikerate of 129.85, the proud 'Westie' expressed that he was content in the knowledge that the Thunder would fight on in his absence.

“That is probably the greatest thing,” he said.

“It’s quite special to be at that stage because – as much as it sucks that I’m leaving – it’s not as though Thunder is in a position where the club is really struggling.

“I think Sydney Thunder are capable of having long, sustained success with the players they have. Thunder’s biggest moments are still to come.”

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Although a reportedly lucrative contract with the club has been left on the table, Khawaja signed off by thanking those that cheered him on during his tenure at the Showgrounds.

“I’d like to thank our Members and supporters for everything,” he expressed.

“I’ve said for a long time that from what I’ve seen, Sydney Thunder has the greatest supporters because even in those first few years where we struggled we had crowds packed into the ground, supporting us and giving us love.

“I don’t think any team has a fan base that is so loyal, and the players know that... I thank them all for everything because they brought so much to the experience.”