Steven Smith primed for Sydney Sixers’ BBL opener and potential showdown with David Warner

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Steven Smith will make a brief return to Sydney Sixers for this season’s BBL 2023-24 after being made available for their opening match against Melbourne Renegades on December 8. The club are hopeful he will also feature in the Sydney derby after the Pakistan Test series. The international schedule will limit his outings this summer, but Sixers have signed him onto their list and he is locked in to face Renegades at the SCG before flying to Perth ahead of the opening Test against Pakistan which starts on December 14. Smith could appear at the SCG for a second time, against crosstown rivals Sydney Thunder on January 12, which has the potential to be a head-to-head with David Warner who is set to retire from Test cricket after the Pakistan series and therefore be available for the BBL. It is unlikely Smith will be available for any other matches, including the finals, due to Australia commitments. “The impact that Steve was able to make in such a short time last season is testament to the kind of player he is,” Rachael Haynes, the head coach of Sydney Sixers, said. “We have no doubt Sixers fans can expect the same level of entertainment when he takes to the field again this summer.” Smith opened the batting for Sixers last season and it is a role he is currently taking on in the T20I series against India where he made 52 in the opening game. He had been due to open in South Africa earlier this year before a wrist injury ruled him out of that tour. It is a position he is keen to continue in with an eye on next year’s T20 World Cup in West Indies and the USA although there will be plenty of competition for opening spots in the Australia side alongside Warner, Travis Head and Matt Short. “Anyone would want to open in T20 cricket,” Smith told AAP at the start of the summer. “It was cool to be able to show what I could do in the Big Bash. Hopefully I can replicate that internationally as well.” Melbourne Stars will also be without Mark Steketee and Beau Webster for the opening-night game against Heat while Sixers won’t have Todd Murphy available against Renegades. Former Sixer Nathan Lyon has indicated his desire to play for his new side Renegades before the Test summer which would pit him against Smith on December 8. Other clubs will also hope there is a chance of briefly seeing their Test players during the eight-day gap between the Sydney Test, which ends on January 7, and the opening game against West Indies from January 17. Australia’s three frontline multiformat quick bowlers – Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood – are not yet attached to any BBL teams and are unlikely to play given their workloads. The BBL has been hit by two significant withdrawals from their overseas names in recent days with Harry Brook (England duty) and Rashid Khan (injury) ruled out of the tournament.

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