Smith's BBL snub is ridiculous: Sixers
The Sydney Sixers have slammed the banning of Steve Smith from the BBL finals as a nonsensical move that is sad for cricket.
Smith's application to play for the Sixers in Saturday night's qualifying final against the Perth Scorcers has been rejected by Cricket Australia (CA).
Other state franchises voted against allowing Smith to play in the qualifier, a decision rubber-stamped by CA.
Smith, an inaugural Sydney Sixer, wasn't on the franchise's playing list this tournament given the star batsman was expected to be unavailable due to Australian commitments.
The cancellation of Australia's limited overs series against New Zealand opened the BBL door for Smith.
But CA says allowing Smith to play for the Sixers would have breached rules put in place two weeks ago regarding replacement players for squads hit by COVID-related withdrawals.
CA introduced a local replacement player pool (LRP) from which all franchises must pick any fill-in - had Smith been placed in that pool, he would have been available for any BBL franchise.
"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 said in a statement on Friday.
"This request was denied ... noting that other players returning to the BBL from international duty have been retained on club lists throughout the competition."
Several of Smith's Australian Test teammates, including Nathan Lyon and Travis Head, have returned to their BBL clubs and will play in the finals - but they were all contracted by their franchises for the tournament.
Sixers captain Moises Henriques says the ruling defies CA's desire for the BBL to feature the best Australian players.
"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 maths.
"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."
Henriques understood "how those mistakes were made initially two weeks ago" when drawing up the replacement player rules.
"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 I think sometimes we also have to keep moving forward and stay flexible."
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