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BBL won’t rule out granting Steve Smith exemption to play for Sydney Sixers in Final

Big Bash boss Alistair Dobson admits he would “love” to see Steve Smith play in Friday’s Final and is set to meet with the Sydney Sixers with an injury crisis reaching tipping point and replacements for BBL Judgement Day.

The Sixers scraped past the Adelaide Strikers in a thriller on Wednesday night and will meet bitter rival the Perth Scorchers in the Final for a chance to clinch their third consecutive title.

The availability of Daniel Hughes (leg injury), captain Moises Henriques (hamstring), Jordan Silk (hamstring), Steve O’Keefe (calf), Josh Philippe, Mickey and Jack Edwards (all Covid-19) remains under a cloud, however.

The BBL has rebuffed more than one attempt by the Sixers to bring Smith back into the fold, citing a rule created on January 10 that prevented local signings from outside the central replacement player pool.

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The League has already made one exception, though, by allowing Jay Lenton to keep wicket for the Sixers on Wednesday after Philippe’s diagnosis.

A source close to the Sixers said the side hoped Smith would be free and keen to play in the biggest game of the year and planned to provide fans with an update on Thursday night.

Dobson said he would meet with the Sixers on Thursday to determine who could be used to replenish the Sixers’ stocks and did not rule out granting Smith an exemption.

“Clearly we’d love him to be able to play and be part of the BBL,” Dobson said on Thursday.

“I’m not going to jump ahead about the process.

“If (the Sixers) want to have that discussion again around the criteria or the rules that exist, that door’s always open.

“It’s on a case-by-case basis depending on the situation and we’ve got a technical committee that sits and assesses all those applications.”

Dobson said the situation wasn’t cut-and-dry, given unlike fellow Test stars such as Scott Boland, Nathan Lyon, Travis Head and Alex Carey, Smith is not contracted with a BBL side.

“A lot of clubs contract Australian players knowing they’re not going to be able to play a lot of games, but they want to carry them anyway,” Dobson told SEN.

“Steve Smith wasn’t on the Sixers’ list.”

The BBL barred Smith from returning for The Challenger against the Strikers, but since then, Silk, O’Keefe and Henriques have all pulled up sore.

 “Clearly the Sixers have got some further challenges after last night,” Dobson said.

“We’ll (speak) with them today and establish whether they need to bring in any further replacements.”

Dobson indicated the Sixers may be required to pick from the replacement pool of players. Given the majority of their injuries are to specialist batters, Nick Bertus, Jake Carder or Lachlan Hearne could be on standby to play.

“We have a central pool of replacement players that we created this year for this exact reason,” he said.

“We expect the Sixers to put a great team together for tomorrow.”

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