Steve Smith announcement delights cricket fans ahead of BBL season

Steve Smith, pictured here before the second Test between Australia and West Indies.
Steve Smith looks on before the second Test between Australia and West Indies. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Cricket fans will get to see Steve Smith in the BBL after all after a stand-off with Cricket Australia over his involvement was resolved. It looked as though Smith wouldn't be playing in the 12th edition of the BBL this summer after the Sydney Sixers filled up their roster thinking he wouldn't be available.

The same happened when Cricket Australia blocked the Sixers from adding Smith to their team for last season's finals series. But Cricket Australia bosses met with Smith's management during the first Test against the West Indies in Perth earlier this month in a bid to bring him back to the competition before it was eventually finalised.

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Under a deal struck between Smith and CA, the prolific batter will be added to the Sixers squad as a replacement player once an international star heads back overseas in early January. He will then become available for the Sixers when the Test summer wraps up on January 8, allowing him to play up to four regular-season matches.

A replacement player would normally only garner payments of $2200 per game, but Smith will now receive a greater salary as part of marketing expenditure. It is a similar situation to the one used by CA to lure David Warner back to the BBL at the Sydney Thunder, but in this instance also includes a significant contribution from Cricket NSW.

"Steve and his management recently confirmed he will be available to play in this summer's Big Bash, after his international commitments have finished in January." Sixers boss Jonathan Robinson-Lees said. "That is great news for the Sixers, the BBL and for fans. We are really excited for the team and especially our fans, who will now get to see one of the world's greatest players in magenta this summer."

Smith will now feature in the Sydney Smash against Warner and the Thunder at the SCG on January 21. His return will mark the first time he has played in the BBL since 2019-20.

"Steve Smith is a Sixer. He has been part of this club from the start, and he will be part of this club for as long as he wants to be," Sixers captain Moises Henriques said. "He has always known that the door is open to him playing with us again."

Steve Smith, pictured here in action for the Sydney Sixers in the BBL in 2020.
Steve Smith in action for the Sydney Sixers in the BBL in 2020. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Cricket fans eager to see Steve Smith in BBL

The news is a major win for CA amid tumultuous times. Smith is the kind of crowd-puller the BBL desperately needs given some of the biggest names in Aussies cricket (including Glenn Maxwell and Mitch Marsh) have been ruled out of the tournament due to injury.

It also comes amid heavily criticism in recent weeks for a failure to make clear decisions, highlighted by the saga surrounding Warner's leadership ban. Last week Warner announced that he was abandoning his attempts to have the lifetime ban overturned because an independent panel wanted to hold a public appeal hearing.

Many pointed out that CA, who are open to overturning Warner's ban and wanted him to continue with the appeal, failed to properly set the parameters for the hearing and left it to the independent panel's discretion.

with AAP

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