BBL Qualifier - Melbourne Stars v Sydney Sixers
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Steve Smith of the 6ers in action during Big Bash League Finals match between the Melbourne Stars and the Sydney Sixers at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on January 31, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)
BBL Qualifier - Melbourne Stars v Sydney Sixers

The Sydney Sixers were knocked back on three separate occasions to have Australian star Steve Smith play in the BBL finals, and now, following their grand final loss to the Perth Scorchers, Steve O'Keefe has opened up on the disappointing process.

The Sixers, who were gunning for a three-peat of BBL titles, were knocked around by both injuries and COVID during the finals campaign, which saw them lose to the Perth Scorchers in the opening match, before winning a knockout second-chance game against the Adelaide Strikers.

They would then travel back to Melbourne before going down in the final to the Scorchers at Marvel Stadium.

It was a final which, for some time, was in doubt however with the Scorchers barely able to name 11 fit players for the tournament's showpiece event.

Smith's availability only came about following the cancellation of a New Zealand white ball tour for three ODIs and a T20 match.

That led to Smith requesting to play in the BBL with the Sixers, however, given he hadn't been signed to a contract at the start of the season as some other clubs had done with Australian players, and he wasn't included in the local player replacement pool - created due to COVID - it was knocked back by Cricket Australia.

Teammate O'Keefe told The Sydney Morning Herald that the decision was "bureaucratic madness" however.

“Where do I start with that one?” O’Keefe said.

“What really frustrates me is when [BBL boss] Alistair Dobson comes out and says he really wanted Steve Smith to play.

“Well, if you wanted him to play, let him play. When you’re in that position of power, and you’re running a tournament, you need to make bold and brave decisions that are in the best interests of the game. Quite frankly, they missed a step.

“They had a good opportunity to bring in some world-class players, but they didn’t. They’ve only got themselves to blame.

“And what about the broadcasters? They paid big money for this tournament, so I’m surprised they didn’t pipe up about it all.

“The Scorchers were the best team in the competition. They did it tough and you can’t take anything away from them. They thoroughly deserved their fourth title.

“But how good would it have been to see us chasing 170 on Friday night with Steve Smith facing Jhye Richardson?

“They tied themselves up in this ‘word salad’ of rules ... I can only describe it as bureaucratic madness. It was poor form.”

The BBL has come under the gun from fans for its lack of big-name players and drawn-out season, with crowds dipping over the past few summers.