Cricket Australia under pressure to lure Steve Smith back into Big Bash League: ‘It’s a must’

Former Test captain Steve Smith’s game status remains uncertain as Championship winner Sydney Sixer is not resigning his name to play in the Big Bash League, which begins next week.

Even players from the rival Sydney Sixers franchises are urging Cricket Australia to pull out all the stops to lure him back to the BBL this summer.

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The BBL hopes the interest sparked by the first international draft and the return of high-profile Australians like David Warner and Cameron Green can boost viewership after two summers hit by COVID.

The Sixers are running out of time to get creative to lure Smith back.

The Sixers are yet to reveal the final two members of their 18-man roster, but AAP understands the spots have been filled — and none by Smith — though the BBL will be exploring options.

SteveSmith. Recognition: Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images

The Sixers are set to lose international signings Chris Jordan and James Vince to the UAE T20 League around the same time, but the BBL are yet to publicly confirm if he could be an equivalent replacement for either of the Englishmen.

It’s unlikely Smith would sign as a backup for the Sixers as the $2500 game fee on offer probably won’t be enough to lure the 33-year-old to magenta given the upcoming international calendar.

Another option could be for the Sixers to ask the league for help subsidizing Smith’s contract since they have Warner’s.

In a bid to bring Warner back to the BBL after nine years, Cricket Australia has allocated part of his salary to marketing expenses with the expectation that he will help bring fans back to the game.

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“If that’s what we have to do, I mean I can’t speak on behalf of (the BBL) but we all want the best talent to play in this competition,” Sixers wicketkeeper Josh Philippe told AAP .

“[Smith]absolutely loves playing for the Sixers so there’s no reason we shouldn’t try to get him back.”

The BBL has already failed in an attempt to bring the 33-year-old back.

Smith was keen to sign up as a substitute with the Sixers last summer but was turned down on the grounds that he wasn’t a member of the approved player pool set up to help teams combat COVID-19 outages.

“I thought maybe they missed a trick last year,” Melbourne Renegades captain Nic Maddinson told AAP.

“Anytime we can let our international players play at the Big Bash, we should let them do that.

“I would like to see all the Cricket Australia Test players on a list somewhere, whether they play or not. Availability and things like that come into play,” Maddinson said.

Steve Smith of the Sixers. Recognition: Mark Evans – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Imag

Adelaide Strikers captain and former Test paceman Peter Siddle said Smith would go a long way in helping the BBL overcome their crowd concerns.

“The[Smith]following is huge,” Siddle told AAP.

“He’s the biggest Australian batsman in recent memory. He’s someone you want back.

“Yes it’s a tough summer, I’ve managed to play Test cricket and trying to get back (to the BBL) is tough.

“But if there’s a way to get these guys back in their Big Bash colors, it’s a must, whatever team they’re playing for.”

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James Brien

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