Australia are prepared to mix and match Test and Twenty20 formats this summer after the urn was secured in Tuesday’s Ashes triumph in Perth.
Explosive opener David Warner has been released to play in the opening round of the Big Bash League this weekend, in a major boost to the Sydney Thunder.
Warner will go head-to-head with Test teammate and Sixers star Steve Smith in the Sydney derby at the SCG on Saturday night, while George Bailey is free to play for Hobart against Adelaide on Sunday.
Cricket Australia said the Test side’s 3-0 Ashes result gave them the wiggle room to return some star power to the domestic Twenty20 openers.
CA are confident the T20 outing won’t disrupt the rhythm of Australia’s top order ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, however they’ve decided against releasing any bowlers.
Fringe fast bowlers Doug Bollinger (Hobart) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (Perth) will be free to play this weekend, but the top-line attack of Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon and Peter Siddle will be kept on ice for the fourth Test.
Experienced players like Michael Clarke, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin will have their workload managed and will be rested in the lead up to the showpiece match at the MCG.
However, on Saturday night, Warner and Smith will be asked to flick the switch to attack mode in the T20 format.
Australian high performance manager, Pat Howard, has worked closely with BBL clubs for several months regarding Test player availability in the early stages of the tournament while the Ashes are being played.
“Our Test squad has a very specific training and recovery program throughout the Ashes and we are keen to maintain that where possible,” Howard said.
“That being said, yesterday’s series victory has given us the opportunity to be more flexible in our approach to BBL availability.
“After careful consideration of player fitness and workload issues, we have agreed to release George Bailey, Steve Smith and David Warner for BBL duties on 21 and 22 December.
“On this occasion, the bowlers from the first three Tests were not considered for release given their recent workload and the need to prepare for the Melbourne and Sydney Tests.
“We will continue to work closely with all BBL clubs on player availability and preparation.”