Steve Smith belts a six for the Barbados Tridents against the Jamaica Tallawahs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in August. Picture: Getty Images
Steve Smith belts a six for the Barbados Tridents against the Jamaica Tallawahs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in August. Picture: Getty Images

Smith signs with BBL rivals in ban farce

STEVE Smith will expose the farcical nature of his year-long ban by heading off to play in the Arabian Desert on the same day as kick-off for Australia's showpiece Big Bash League.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal Smith has signed with the UAE T20X league which will launch in the Emirates on December 19 in direct competition with the BBL competition that he and David Warner are banned from.

There is a feeling around the game that the only way Cricket Australia will bend on their current opposition to lessening the ball-tampering suspensions is if Chairman David Peever is ousted by the State boards, who would have to summon the courage to rise up against him.

Then it's believed the players' association and CA could find a compromise whereby the strict 12-month penalties are relaxed to at least allow them to play domestic cricket competitions the Sheffield Shield and BBL. As it stands they can only play overseas.

Steve Smith belts a six for the Barbados Tridents against the Jamaica Tallawahs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in August. Picture: Getty Images
Steve Smith belts a six for the Barbados Tridents against the Jamaica Tallawahs in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in August. Picture: Getty Images


Cricket Godfather Allan Border described the bans as "excessive" and declared he would even be happy to see Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft given the green light to play international cricket this summer following a cultural review that deemed CA administrators must share responsibility for the scandal which has rocked the game to its core.

Senior figures across the game are already concerned about the threat a cashed-up UAE T20X League offering $300,000 to marquee stars poses to the BBL, where top players earn half that amount.

But with Warner to fly to the Bangladesh Premier League in January and also play in direct competition to the BBL, there are alarm bells ringing over the embarrassment of having the two biggest stars in Australia permitted to shine overseas and not in front of home fans.

Border said common sense must urgently prevail.

Steve Smith in T20 action for the Toronto Nationals. Picture: Getty Images
Steve Smith in T20 action for the Toronto Nationals. Picture: Getty Images


"I thought the bans were excessive in the first place. I'd be happy either way - for the bans to be lifted (entirely) … but at worst (a compromise) so they can play Sheffield Shield cricket or Big Bash," Border told The Daily Telegraph.

"That makes sense to me. It seems odd you can go off and play in overseas Twenty20 leagues but not play in our own domestic competitions. That seems a bit odd.

"The starting point is the bans were excessive and over-reactionary at the time and hopefully everyone has learnt their lessons. It would be great for our competition to have those guys back playing."

Steve Smith batting for the Sydney Sixers at the SCG. Picture: Mark Evans
Steve Smith batting for the Sydney Sixers at the SCG. Picture: Mark Evans


The Australian Cricketers Association yesterday confirmed a report in The Daily Telegraph that they would lodge an official submission with Cricket Australia for the bans to be revised and possibly even scrapped on the "new evidence" exposed in the cultural review.

Australia's former bowling coach Craig McDermott joined ex-coach Darren Lehmann in arguing that Cricket Australia must soften the bans.

"I don't think they should have copped the ban they copped in the first place," said McDermott.

"They should now be playing Big Bash and Shield cricket this year in Australia, without a doubt."

Lehmann said a middle-ground must be found.

Steve Smith at the crease in Sydney grade cricket with Sutherland in September. Picture: AAP
Steve Smith at the crease in Sydney grade cricket with Sutherland in September. Picture: AAP


"I think the sanctions were probably too harsh and they should be allowed to play domestic cricket at least," he said.

Test greats and Seven commentators Glenn McGrath and Damien Fleming added their weight, arguing a change was in the game's best interests.

"They're playing (in overseas T20 leagues) in front of crowds over there, it'd be great to see them back here entertaining the crowds in the BBL," McGrath said.

"I think they've paid their price. Twelve months is a long ban from all forms of cricket here in Australia. I'd like to see a little bit of compassion there. I think the Australian public wants that and that would be good for cricket."

 

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