Sixers expect late call on Steve Smith SOS
Sydney Sixers remain "clueless" about Steve Smith's prospects of playing in Friday night's BBL final, while Perth Scorchers skipper Ashton Turner has backed the superstar to return.
The absence of Smith, who would be playing his first game of the season if parachuted into the Marvel Stadium title-deciding match, has proven a source of much frustration for the Sixers and many pundits.
The injury-riddled club hope it proves a case of third time lucky after sending a fresh SOS to Cricket Australia (CA), although a final answer may not come until Friday.
The men in magenta attempted to sign former skipper Smith for the entire finals series, only for CA to block the move after rival state associations raised objections.
Sydney tried again after Josh Philippe contracted COVID-19 but failed, opting to pick assistant coach Jay Lenton in Wednesday night's drama-laden win over Adelaide Strikers.
They asked the same question on Thursday after Steve O'Keefe (calf), Jordan Silk (hamstring) and Moises Henriques (calf) suffered fresh injuries at the SCG, while Daniel Hughes (ankle) failed a pre-match fitness test.
Silk has been ruled out of the final, while the other trio remain upbeat they will be part of the Sixers' bid for a third straight crown.
Philippe will not return against the Scorchers, while brothers Jack and Mickey Edwards are also set to be unavailable because of COVID-19.
"We do have enough players to field an XI. It's just we'd probably have to pick bowlers to bat," skipper Henriques told reporters.
"We've definitely asked to bring him (Smith) into the pool (of replacement players). Whether that gets across the line or not, I don't know.
"We didn't know for yesterday's game until about 10.30am. We're preparing to find out pretty late."
Adelaide skipper Peter Siddle said on Monday it was right to block Smith's signing, arguing "rules are rules".
Turner, who confirmed hamstrung T20 World Cup ace Mitch Marsh would play on Friday night, sided with the Sixers on the topic.
"The last few games, as a fan I would have liked to have seen Steve Smith playing," Turner said.
"I can't change my tune now, just because we're matching up against them.
"I like playing against the best players in the world, Steve is one of those.
"We know that everyone wearing a pink shirt tomorrow is going to be a good cricketer."
Henriques, who was selected in Australia's squad for the Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka that begins on February 11, is confident he will face the Scorchers.
"I'm hoping it doesn't get any worse," he said.
"But they're the risks you take to try and play in the matches you work so hard for."
Friday will mark the fifth season finale between powerhouses Perth and the Sixers.
"We can't wait for the opportunity, the little bit of redemption. They were too good for us last year in the big games," Turner said.
"We feel like we've taken lessons out of that. We feel like we've come back a better team."