Steve Smith will return to the Sydney Sixers for the BBL after making a memorable comeback to the domestic league last summer.
The signing is a big win for the BBL, which profited from Smith’s swashbuckling cameo last time around and has long faced criticism for failing to attract the best local talent during the hectic home Test window.
Superstar batter Smith is still in India as part of Australia’s T20I series so the Sixers are yet to finalise the number of games for which he will be available.
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But he will play at least the Sixers’ first game of the tournament against the Melbourne Renegades on December 8 before the Test series with Pakistan begins the following week.
High-profile Melbourne Renegades recruit Nathan Lyon is set to face off against his former BBL side in that match.
A 10-day gap between Australia’s series against Pakistan and West Indies presents another chance for him to feature when the Sixers face local rivals the Sydney Thunder on January 12.
Steve Smith will be back for the Sixers. Credit: STEVEN MARKHAM/AAPIMAGE
Smith has been signed to a fully fledged BBL contract rather than to the new supplementary list, introduced this summer to facilitate cameo appearances from star local players.
Supplementary players are guaranteed a flat $50,000 fee even if international commitments prevent them from playing and then $30,000 match payments for any appearances they make.
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But with the Sixers and Smith both sure the batter will play this summer, a fully-fledged deal is likely to end up more cost-effective.
As was the case last summer, Smith would be unavailable if the Sixers made it deep into the play-offs; this year’s final takes place the day before the final West Indies Test begins.
The Sixers can replace Smith with another local player when he is on Test duty.
“I’ve got some really fond memories playing for the Sixers,” Smith said.
“Obviously, I am an original, part of the first squad and really enjoyed my time last year for the five or six games and the finals that I played so I am keen to get out there again.”
Smith broke a three-year hiatus when he returned to the Sixers last summer after officious contracting rules blocked him from making a last-minute comeback the tournament prior.
Smith averaged 86.5 runs in five games and found himself named in the team of the tournament.
During his cameo, Smith became the first male Sixers player to hit a century and followed that effort up with his best-ever T20 score – an unbeaten 125 against the Thunder.
Lyon, David Warner, Scott Boland, Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne are among the other Australian internationals expected to play during the BBL this summer.