The Sydney Sixers are reportedly furious after Australian batsman Steve Smith was barred from rejoining the side in the lead up to the BBL finals.
According to Fox Cricket’s Tom Morris, the Sixers and Smith reconnected after the white-ball series against New Zealand was postponed, with the former Australian captain signalling his interest to make a BBL return now that his schedule was cleared.
While the Sixers had a free spot on their list in case a player of Smith’s calibre became available, Cricket Australia reportedly knocked back the application for Smith to wear magenta for the rest of the 2021/22 season.
According to Morris, Cricket Australia took the proposal to state CEOs who advised against changing rules to allow Smith to play.
It is believed this is due to the BBL’s COVID replacement player pool, which was instated in January to help clubs missing players that were isolating due to the virus.
Had Smith entered the local replacement pool, any club could’ve signed him and he would’ve been obligated to play for them.
The decision from Cricket Australia comes after several International stars - such as Marnus Labuschagne and Nathan Lyon - linked back up with their respective clubs once the Ashes series wrapped up.
While Lyon is free to play for the Sixers, batsman Jordan Silk explained why the off-spinner was able to rejoin the team but Smith wasn’t.
“Nathan Lyon, he’s on contract with us so he can come straight back into our side,” Silk said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“We’ve had for the majority of the season a replacement player for Nathan Lyon.
“Steve Smith wasn’t on a contract for us at the start of the year.
“I’m not too sure what has happened in the last 24 hours, I was hearing he was going to play for us yesterday morning.
“But we found out last night that he’s unavailable, I don’t know the ins and outs of what’s gone down and what it’s to do with, but it’s obviously disappointing that a player like Steve Smith isn’t allowed to play in the BBL for us.”
Silk couldn’t hide his disappointment with the Smith call, believing Cricket Australia missed a trick in not using Smith to build excitement around the BBL finals.
“We know he (Smith) is a traditional Sydney Sixer, he’s been there since the beginning,” Silk continued.
“I believe he really wanted to play for us but I think the complexities with COVID and the (replacement) player pools maybe affected it.
“Maybe in another season when that’s not around he could’ve played for us.
“It is disappointing, because he would’ve been a massive drawcard at this time of year, to have a player of his quality when the quality of the players has been talked about with players missing due to COVID.”
After finishing in second place, the Sixers will take on the first placed Scorchers in their opening final.
If the Sixers win that clash, they’ll host the BBL final at the SCG on January 28.