While the likes of David Warner, Pat Cummins, Tim Paine and Mitchell Starc enjoy well-earned rests, Smith got in early and told the Sixers he wanted to play as soon as his international commitments were over.
He will be joined by ultra-consistent quick Josh Hazlewood against the Melbourne Renegades, and the pair, along with Test spinner Nathan Lyon, will all feature for the second-placed Sixers for the remainder of the BBL campaign.
It’s understood Smith is earning a modest $60,000 to $70,000 for his short stint with the Sixers, but that is an outstanding bargain when you consider the return for the Sixers, Cricket Australia and TV broadcasters.
“I’m feeling good, and I have spent most of the summer watching the game,” said Smith, with a smile.
“I thought it was going to happen again [at the Gabba] where I wouldn’t get the chance to bat. I’ve done a lot of watching and not a heap of playing. I’m ready to keep playing and enjoy it.
”I have some pretty fond memories from the first year when I was captaining here and we won the inaugural [BBL] competition. It’s great to be back with the boys. They’re a great crew. We’re heading in the right direction.”
Sixers boss Jodie Hawkins was chuffed to have Smith wearing the magenta again. Hawkins recalled how Smith trained with the Sixers last summer while sidelined and what role he played in convincing his 22-year-old blond clone Josh Philippe to ink a three-year deal.
“Steve is priceless for us,” Hawkins said. “You’d argue he’s the highest-profile player in Australian cricket. He’s been a Sixer forever. When a window came up [this summer] Steve reached out, we had a chat and found a way to make it work.”
Hawkins said CA needed to make it easier for Australian stars to be made available for the BBL, rather than focusing on overseas talent to build BBL hype.
Next summer already looks like being a challenge for the franchises getting their hands on the limited-overs stars because of the six ODIs slated against India and New Zealand.
“CA need to create more flexibility with the Australian players and allow them to come in and play for us when available,” Hawkins said.
“There has to be a better way to do it. We talk about bringing in big-name internationals, but our No.1 priority should be how we bring in our Aussie internationals when they’re available. They should be allowed play if they’re interested. We’re lucky Steve and Josh Hazlewood were both interested and available.”
The Sixers are in a ding-dong battle with Adelaide for second spot, which brings with it the all-important second chance during the finals.
Trusty No.10 Hazlewood smacked three boundaries to win the game against Adelaide earlier this month, and Smith said the quick continually bragged about his ability with the willow while in India.
“He was talking up his batting and how well he did it in the back end of that game. We had heard all about [his strike rate],” Smith said.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.