Ricky Ponting questions Mitch Marsh move as Perth Scorchers dumped out of BBL finals

Test players Mitch Marsh, Travis Head and Alex Carey should seemingly have been available for the Adelaide Strikers and Perth Scorchers game.

Ricky Ponting and Mitch Marsh.
Mitch Marsh (R) helped the Perth Scorchers win the BBL title in 2022. Image: Getty

Questions are being asked as to why Test players Mitch Marsh, Travis Head and Alex Carey weren't released to play in the BBL finals match between the Perth Scorchers and Adelaide Strikers on Saturday night. The Strikers pulled off an extraordinary upset win over the two-time defending champion Scorchers, in a match that was missing a dearth of talent compared to earlier in the tournament.

The Scorchers were without Laurie Evans and Zak Crawley, while the Strikers were missing Chris Lynn, Jamie Overton and Adam Hose. The players had featured heavily throughout the BBL season, but departed before the finals to play in the UAE's lucrative ILT20 league.

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It's the same situation for the Sydney Sixers, who won't have James Vince when they host the final on Wednesday night. BBL teams were aware that their international stars (plus Lynn) wouldn't be available for the finals when they were drafted, with the incredible riches on offer in the UAE too good to refuse for the players.

But the farcical situation has severely affected the BBL finals and left fans fuming. Amid the sad situation, Ricky Ponting was quick to question why Marsh, Head and Carey weren't playing on Saturday night.

Marsh is contracted to the Scorchers and helped them win the title in 2022, while Head and Carey are Strikers players. They haven't been able to feature much in the BBL this season due to commitments with the Test team, and would normally have been playing against the West Indies in Adelaide on Saturday.

However the first Test against the Windies finished before lunch on the third day on Friday, seemingly freeing up Marsh, Head and Carey to play in the BBL on Saturday night. The return of the Test stars would have offset the absence of the international talent, but for whatever reason they weren't released to play.

Travis Head and Mitch Marsh.
Travis Head and Mitch Marsh in action for the Australian Test team. (Photo by Daniel Pockett - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images) (Cricket Australia via Getty Imag)

"The Test Match finished early," Jason Richardson said on Channel 7 during Saturday night's game. "Travis Head and Alex Carey are contracted with the Adelaide Strikers. Mitchell Marsh is contracted to the Perth Scorchers. Would they have been eligible?"

Ponting, who brought up the topic, responded: "I think it obviously comes down to the fact they haven't been released - too close to the end of the Test Match or something. How good it would have been to see those guys playing and rocking it."

Richardson then asked: "Are they eligible to Australian cricket releasing them out of the Test duties once the game is finished? It finished early." Ponting said the players would have wanted to play but mustn't have been allowed. "The only thing I could think of," he said. "The players would want to play and Travis had a little more workload than Alex did."

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Head made 119 off 134 balls against the Windies in Adelaide, but didn't have to bat in the second dig as Australia won by 10 wickets. Marsh only faced 26 balls (for five runs) and bowled just two overs, while Carey made 15 off 40 balls and was only keeping for a total of 97.3 overs.

A decision not to release the Test players would be somewhat of a slap in the face for fans, considering Matt Renshaw was allowed to play for the Brisbane Heat on Friday night. Renshaw was the back-up batter in the Test side and would have been required if a concussion substitute was needed.

He was released by the Test team on Thursday night and was due to fly back to Adelaide on Saturday, leaving the Aussie side without a reserve for all of Friday's play. Usman Khawaja was struck on the jaw and had to retire hurt on Friday, but thankfully he passed a concussion test and the Aussies were only chasing 26 for victory anyway.

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