CA rules out Smith’s return for BBL finals, Sixers flare-up

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Cricket Australia maintains its stand to not allow Steve Smith to take part in the ongoing BBL season. Smith has been a member of the Sydney Sixers since the inception of BBL. The Australian giant led the Sixers to its first BBL title in the inaugural season. Since then, the Sixers have been one of the most successful T20 franchises in the world.

CA explained why they decided to not permit the former Australian captain to play for the Sixers. According to them, Smith’s inclusion would have been a breach of the existing player-replacement norms for Covid-hit squads.

Sixers express displeasure, calls it ” sad for cricket”

After several BBL teams suffered from players infected with Covid, the CA introduced a local replacement player pool (LRP) for the franchises. If the Sixers had included Smith via LRP there was no scope for the cricket board to exclude him. Previously, the Perth Scorchers faced a point-deduction for having violated the statute.

“In creating the central LRP pool, it was agreed that clubs would not be able to contract LRPs from outside the pool for the remainder of the season,” CA stated to the press. “This request was denied … noting that other players returning to the BBL from international duty have been retained on club lists throughout the competition.”

Captain Henriques speaks on Smith, CA and BBL

Ahead of the tournament, Smith was unavailable for selection because of the Ashes and the limited over series against Blackcaps. Hence he was not on the playing list of the Sixers. After the series against New Zealand was postponed, several franchises brought in players from the national side to strengthen their team.

Smith’s team-mates Nathan Lyon, Travis Head, Alex Carey, Scott Boland, and Jhye Richardson, but each of them had previously bagged a contract from their respective franchises respectively.

The Sixers are left baffled at CA’s actions calling it to be “sad for cricket”. Sixers skipper Moises Henriques fumed that such measures go against CA’s ambition to feature the best Australian cricketers in the BBL.

“You have got a former Australian captain, one of the best players in the world,” Henriques told reporters on Friday. “You have got IPL teams who pay multi-million dollars just to have this guy as part of their franchise. Advertising, bums on seats, eyes on TV’s – I mean, you do the math.

And we’re saying no because of a rule that is two weeks old in some Covid bubble hub. To me, I don’t get it. We’re in the top two without him … so I have got absolute belief in our domestic talent and local talent to do the job. I think it’s sad for cricket, that’s all.”

“Mistake made” admits skipper

Henriques also agreed that not including Smith via LRP was a big mistake on their part. But he did appeal that rules and regulations need to be flexible for the best interests of the league.

“What I do respect is that they [CA] have kept rolling with the punches – and I just can’t see why they don’t keep rolling with the punches now,” he said. “Mistakes are going to be made and the wrong calls are going to be made, but sometimes we also have to keep moving forward and stay flexible.”

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