Big Bash League: WA star Josh Philippe out Sixers' do-or-die crunch match with COVID

Scott BaileyAAP
Josh Philippe won’t play again this BBL tournament after contracting COVID.
Camera IconJosh Philippe won’t play again this BBL tournament after contracting COVID. Credit: Dan Himbrechts/AAPIMAGE

Steve Smith still can’t play in the Big Bash League preliminary final, despite the Sydney Sixers losing Josh Philippe after the star wicketkeeper contracted COVID-19.

The West Aussie will miss Wednesday night’s finals clash with Adelaide after testing positive to the virus on Tuesday, ruling him out of the rest of the tournament.

It means the Sixers have lost their best batter for the clash, with the winner to face Perth in the final on Friday.

Philippe now joins Mickey and Jack Edwards in being sidelined because of the virus.

As Sixers players have been given individual rooms this week. No other players have been forced to withdraw as close contacts.

The club is also unsure if Daniel Hughes will be fit to play, leaving them short another batter.

It prompted the Sixers to make a final request to Cricket Australia to allow Smith to come into the team on Tuesday night.

They have since been told that will not be allowed.

CA does not consider Smith a replacement for Philippe, given he does not solve their issue behind the stumps.

Instead Jay Lenton, who has been acting as an assistant coach, will come into the team from the replacement list.

The Sixers would still have another batting option in Nick Bertus, if they were to lose another player for the clash or the final against Perth if they win through.

Bertus was a last-minute call up from the local replacement list in last Saturday’s loss to Perth, when Hughes was injured in the warm-up.

Sydney Sixers star Josh Philippe.
Camera IconJosh Philippe has been ruled out of the Sydney Sixers' BBL finals clash with the Adelaide Strikers. Credit: AAP

If more players contract the virus, it is possible CA could expand their replacement list before Friday’s decider.

Smith would then need to make himself available for both teams, in the unlikely event Perth needed to draft him into their side.

CA’s decision not to allow Smith to play in the BBL finals has been met with heavy criticism.

A list of local replacement players drafted up earlier this month in response to COVID outbreaks meant clubs could not sign new players from outside that list.

Smith has previously always played for the Sixers, but the superstar batsman was not contracted this year due to international commitments.

But when New Zealand’s tour of Australia was cancelled, he approached the Sixers in a bid to play.

CA passed the matter on to rival state chief executives and officials to make a call on whether the Sixers should be able to recruit from outside the replacement list, but it was voted against.

That led to criticism from several past and present players, who questioned why one of the game’s most marketable stars could not be used to improve crowds.

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