Smith's BBL exclusion still irks Sixers

Steve Smith's unavailability for the BBL finals has been questioned by a Sydney Sixers teammate.
Steve Smith's unavailability for the BBL finals has been questioned by a Sydney Sixers teammate.

Sydney Sixers bowler Steve O'Keefe has claimed Big Bash League fans have been let down by the exclusion of Steve Smith from the competition.

The Sixers take on the Adelaide Strikers at the SCG on Wednesday for a spot in the decider against the Perth Scorchers.

However, the build-up to the finals series has centred around Smith's snubbing after the cancellation of Australia's limited-overs series with New Zealand.

While the Sixers will have Nathan Lyon on deck when they face the Strikers, O'Keefe said the absence of Smith was a detriment to the interest in the BBL.

"From the game's perspective it's just a shame you've got someone of the quality of him at home watching TV and we can't even get him playing at the SCG," O'Keefe said.

"For the fans' and the game's sake, it would be a great bonus to have someone of the world-class quality of Steve Smith.

"It would go all ways, if it was Pat Cummins (for the Sydney Thunder) or Cameron Green for the Scorchers, we want those guys playing.

"If you could get the world's best Australian cricketers back from Test cricket I think the game would go a long way in improving and maintaining that integrity that's been lost this season.

"It's disappointing.

"We're a product that's here for the fans and I think in this case we've probably let them down a bit."

It's a different story for the Strikers who have Travis Head and Alex Carey available after the completion of their Test commitments.

But the Sixers will need to be equally wary of batsman Ian Cockbain, who is enjoying a rare feeling for an Englishman during this Australian summer: winning.

Cockbain is undefeated in five games since making his BBL debut after being plucked from Melbourne suburban cricket to plug a hole due to COVID-19-enforced absences in the Strikers' camp.

So far the 34-year-old has scores of 35 not out, 17, 71 not out, 3 and 65 and he hopes to keep that run going on Wednesday.

"I've copped a fair bit of abuse over the Ashes," Cockbain said.

"So to get out there and get a few runs has been nice and at least we have a little bit of bragging rights now.

"The mood in the camp is excellent and everyone's getting around each other.

"We've not only set decent totals, but we've also chased really well with the bat."

Australian Associated Press