Sixers hit by COVID, injury drama in BBL finals lead-up
Defending champions lose two of their top three batters in a wild 45 mintues before play in tonight's qualifier final against the Perth Scorchers with Jack Edwards and Daniel Hughes both late withdrawals
Jack Paynter at Marvel Stadium
22 January 2022, 07:03 PM AEST
The Sydney Sixers have been rocked by two key outs just before their Qualifier final against the Perth Scorchers, with top order batters Daniel Hughes and Jack Edwards both forced out of the match at late notice.
Edwards was forced into isolation after his brother Mickey returned an "inconclusive" COVID-19 test result revealed just 30 minutes before the bat flip.
In more bizarre late news for the Sixers, Hughes tripped on the boundary rope in the warm-up while practicing some high ball catching and has been forced out of the match with an ankle injury.
Hughes had been listed to bat at No.3 on the team sheet when the bat flip took place – won by the Scorchers who opted to bat first – and was later replaced by Nick Bertus from the Player Replacement Pool, who comes straight into the starting lineup to make his debut for the club.
The 28-year-old left-hander, who plays with Parramatta in NSW Premier Cricket at the same club as Sixers teammate Sean Abbott and his brother Ben, has played four first-class and five List A matches for NSW, with his last appearance in December 2019.
Sixers captain Moises Henriques and coach Greg Shippered were seen engaged in discussion with the match referee, Bob Stratford, while Hughes was doing a fitness test on the ground just 15 minutes before the first ball.
Mickey, who was also part of the Sixers 16-player squad for tonight's match at Marvel Stadium, is also now in isolation following his "inconclusive" Rapid Antigen Test result.
The Sixers confirmed just 30 minutes before the bat flip that Jack was considered a contact and was also isolating.
"The two players are doing well but will undergo more testing in the next 24 hours to confirm their status," the Sixers said in a statement.
Jack had found some from during the second half of KFC BBL|11 after being recalled to the side after regular opener James Vince exited the tournament early when he was selected in England's T20 squad for their tour of the West Indies.
His past four knocks had yielded 101 runs at a strike rate of 116.09, with his 40 against the Renegades in Geelong on January 11 his best knock of the tournament.
It's another blow for the Sixers, who were also denied their request to bring Steve Smith into their team for their clash against the Scorchers, which will see one side go through to the decider next Friday night.
Smith's application to play for the Sixers tonight was rejected after other states voted against allowing him to play, a decision rubber-stamped by CA.
CA says allowing Smith, an inaugural Sydney Sixer, to play would have breached rules put in place two weeks ago regarding the local replacement player pool for squads hit by COVID-related withdrawals.
Replacement player Justin Avendano, who also played two games for the Melbourne Stars during their COVID chaos, retains his place in the side following the withdrawal of Jack Edwards.
The right-hander hit his first half century in his 16-game T20 career two matches ago against the Strikers in Adelaide.
Test spinner Nathan Lyon will play his second game of BBL|11 after a return of 1-31 against the Heat on Wednesday.
The Scorchers also have positive COVID cases of their own with replacement player Chris Sabburg and young quick Lance Morris returning positive PCR test results during the week.
Both have been omitted from tonight's squad, but the Scorchers will welcome back English import Laurie Evans from a broken toe he suffered against the Strikers on January 14 and Ashes squad member Jhye Richardson.
Mitch Marsh said the Scorchers had a great rivalry with the Sixers and they looked forward to trying to get one back on them after last year.
"We've played really well here (Marvel Stadium) this year, the wicket's been fantastic so hopefully another good one tonight and we see a great game of cricket," he said on Fox Cricket before the match.
"Two teams that go pretty hard with the bat so it should be exciting."
The winner of tonight's heavyweight clash will progr ess to the decider next Friday, while the loser will get another chance in the Challenger final on January 26 against the winner of tomorrow's Knockout between the Sydney Thunder and Adelaide Strikers.
Scorchers XI: Kurtis Patterson, Josh Inglis (wk), Mitch Marsh, Colin Munro 🇳🇿, Ashton Turner (c), Laurie Evans, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Andrew Tye, Jason Behrendorff, Peter Hatzoglou. X-factors: Aaron Hardie, David Moody
Sixers XI: Josh Philippe (wk), Justin Avendano, Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques (c), Jordan Silk, Dan Christian, Sean Abbott, Hayden Kerr, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Lyon, Stephen O'Keefe. X-factors: Jackson Bird, Todd Murphy