BBL12: Australian Test stars in line for BBL12 finals appearances

BBL12, The Sydney Sixers have got a boost ahead of their Qualifier final trip to Perth with news Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon would be available for the match ahead of the India Test visit. The Perth Scorchers clinched first place on the KFC BBL|12 ladders Friday night with a nail-biting 10-run triumph against the Melbourne Renegades, earning them the opportunity to host the Qualifier final on Saturday.

On the same day, Australian Test squad members and coaching staff will gather in Sydney for the highly anticipated Qantas Tour of India, and veteran red-ball campaigners Smith and Lyon are among 11 players permitted to play in the first week of the BBL playoffs, pending selection. Thirteen of the Australian 18-man team for the India trip have played in the BBL this season, with Smith slamming back-to-back hundreds for the Sixers, who are guaranteed second place regardless of the outcome of tonight’s match against the Hurricanes in Hobart.

Australian stars in line for BBL finals

Perth spinner Ashton Agar and Sixers counterpart Todd Murphy will not play in Saturday’s Qualifier final, as the Australian coaching staff wants to get those two into camp as soon as possible, where they will be joined by Pat Cummins, Scott Boland, and Josh Hazlewood, who will not be playing in the BBL this summer. Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc, both of whom are recuperating from injuries, will also be there. Agar was not available for the Scorchers’ match against the Renegades on Sunday night after the Scorchers realized he would not be available for the Qualifier final.

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“Once we confirmed Ash wouldn’t be available for our final here on Saturday, we believed now was the time for him to begin his preparation for the Test trip,” Perth coach Adam Voges said. “We could not have done it without his approval. “I completely appreciate how important this impending tour of India is to him and how he wants to prepare as best he can. Smith battled through back spasms before his remarkable century against the Sydney Thunder, while Lyon hasn’t played since January 15 due to a minor knee injury.

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CA has made him available for the Qualifier final, with the player and club making the ultimate decision. Swift scorchers Lance Morris, who spent part of the summer with the Test team for the South African series, missed out with sickness on Sunday night but will be available for Saturday’s home final. The remaining three BBL playoff positions are still up for grabs in a hotly-fought competition that might have an impact on player availability.

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Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Matthew Renshaw, and leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson are all Test squad members for the Brisbane Heat, who have risen to third place following four consecutive victories. If the Heat competes in the Eliminator final on Friday night, all four will be available. If the Heat finish third, the Knockout final will be played at the Gabba on Sunday, but Khawaja, Labuschagne, and Renshaw will miss out because Swepson is needed at the pre-India tour camp in Sydney.

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Swepson will be cleared to participate only if the Heat finish fourth or fifth and progress to the Knockout final. If David Warner’s Sydney Thunder make the playoffs, he will be available for either or both of Friday night’s Eliminator and Sunday’s Knockout final. The Thunder are presently in fifth place and can secure a playoff position with a victory over the Stars in the last game of the BBL|12 regular seasons on Wednesday night.

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Finishing third and hosting the Knockout is still a possibility, but other outcomes must go their way as well. With just three points separating the five teams vying for the last three berths, the final five and playoff pairings will not be determined until after that game. If Adelaide Strikers advance, Alex Carey and captain Travis Head will be eligible for the Eliminator and Knockout finals. Test selection Peter Handscomb will be eligible for selection if the Renegades play in the Eliminator final on Friday night, but only if the match is played in Sydney on Sunday.

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Handscomb, who was a standout in the Marsh Sheffield Shield this summer, has appeared in only three games for the Renegades this season, with a best score of nine. The winner of the Qualifier final between Perth and the Sixers will go on to host the BBL Final, while the loser will host the Challenger final. With the Test team departing for India on January 31, no Test players will appear in the second week of finals, which includes the Challenger (February 2) and the BBL Final (February 9). (February 4).

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