Sixers to recall Hughes for do-or-die BBL clash

With Allan Border Medallist Steve Smith off to India with the Test squad, Sixers stalwart Daniel Hughes is the man who will try and fill his shoes

The Sydney Sixers will recall batter Daniel Hughes for his first Big Bash game in a month when they meet the Brisbane Heat in the KFC BBL|12 Challenger final.

As they determine Steve Smith's replacement at the top of the order for Thursday's contest Sydney are likely to preference Hughes or Kurtis Patterson over Hayden Kerr, who opened the batting and saved the day for the Sixers in the corresponding fixture last summer.

Hughes was a staple for the Sixers on their run to the final last year but has been the odd man out this time around.

Englishman James Vince, Patterson and Smith have been favoured as Josh Philippe's partner at the top, with Hughes coming in at first drop in the three games he has played.

But with Vince long since departed for the UAE T20 League and Smith on Test duty, club sources confirmed Hughes would be brought into a batting order that underwhelmed in last week's qualifying final loss to the Perth Scorchers.

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Smith knocked two centuries from five games in his BBL cameo but batter Jordan Silk said the Sixers had faith Hughes was up to the task of replacing him in the XI.

"We've played ten games without Steve and had a few wins along the way so we're familiar with this group," he told reporters.

"(Hughes) has trained well, he's been great around the group all year. He's probably one of the more unlucky players in the competition to not be playing.

"He's been a reliable performer for us at the Sixers for a number of years."

Sixers pace weapon Sean Abbott said it was a "luxury" to have Hughes come in for such a big game.

"Dan has been one of our best players for the whole of the BBL, for the last eight or nine years, so it's quite a luxury to have him coming in, especially when we go home, he knows those conditions well," Abbott told last week.

"I've no doubt that it's probably really frustrating for him. I don't really feel like Daniel's ever really out of form and we've seen what form he's been in playing white-ball cricket for NSW this year: a couple of hundreds, as he does year in year out.

"He's been one of the core players for the Sixers for a long time. He's probably one of the reasons that we do so well, because no matter the selections, he just goes about his business, says 'pick me when you're ready to have me in the team and I'll go out and do a job'.

"So we're very grateful to have someone like Daniel in the team ready to come in."

Allrounder Kerr found himself promoted to the top of the order in last year's challenger and was the hero, batting the Sixers home with an unbeaten 98 runs.

This summer, he has yet to open the batting, most often coming in at seven as the Sixers' last line of defence before the specialist bowlers.

Hughes, as well as Patterson, who opened the batting for the Scorchers in their title win last year, loom as more experienced options at the top despite Kerr's stellar knock last year.

The Sixers won't confirm the order of their final team until game day.

"(Kerr) is a vital piece for us down in that middle to lower order," Silk said.

"Whether we'd see his value at the top in a game like this, I'm not sure what'll happen there. 

"He's almost been probably too good at the role down that he's played at six to warrant moving him."

The Sixers received a boost in the lead-up to the game with news Silk had signed a new three-year contract.

"Coming and watching games of Test cricket at the SCG, it was always a boyhood dream to eventually play at this ground," Silk said.

"I'm glad that that's able to continue."