Steve Smith is set to return to the cricketing arena after three months, when the Global T20 League Canada gets underway in June.
The franchise-based tournament, which will see participation of six teams, has roped in Smith as one of the major players, along with Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Darren Sammy, Lasith Malinga, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Dwayne Bravo, Donovan Miller and David Miller.
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The organisers — Cricket Canada and Mercuri Group — confirmed that Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Heath Streak, Graeme Smith will join as coach and mentors for the six sides.
But significantly, Smith’s inclusion in the tournament is perhaps the biggest attraction of the tournament, which will be held from June 28 to July 15. “Smith has confirmed his participation. He will be one of the two major players, and Cricket Australia had to give an NOC (and that has been given). Our role is to ensure that the player has an NOC,” Cricket Canada president, Ranjit Saini, told Sportstar .
Unlike the earlier proposed format, it has now been decided that each of the six teams will have two key players. Saini confirmed that Smith was added to the list after Cricket Australia issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) a few days back. “It is not a matter of who approached first. It was matter for CA to decide. Smith is a great player and he has shown remorse for whatever he has done. If an NOC is provided, how can we not allow him to play?” Saini reasoned.
While the players draft will be held on Saturday, it is yet to be decided which team Smith will represent. The six teams — Toronto Nationals, Montreal Tigers, Ottawa Royals, Vancouver Knights, Winnipeg Hawks and the Caribbean All Stars — will be vying for the title in the three-week long tournament.
“We cannot reveal which team he will play for now. This tournament brings highest level of cricket to Canada and will inspire the next generation of players in the country. This is a much needed tournament to promote Canada players, and will help them play alongside world’s premier players,” Saini said.
It is learnt that Smith — who is in middle of a year-long suspension following his involvement in the ball-tampering saga — will reach Canada a few days before the tournament begins.
Last week, Saini had told Sportstar that the organisers had not approached Smith as the ‘marquee’ player , but insisted that it would love to have Smith in the league if he wished to play. Now, with Cricket Australia clearing the way for Smith, the star cricketer would be hoping to make his presence felt in his comeback tournament.