Steve Smith revealed he barely touched a cricket bat during lockdown, instead using the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic to switch off.

Cricket in Australia is preparing to kick into gear, having been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Former Australia captain Smith returned to training with New South Wales on Monday, along with international team-mates Mitchell Starc and David Warner.

After a gruelling year on the international and domestic fronts, Smith used the time off to focus on his fitness instead of his technique.

"I'm probably in the best shape I've been in in years, doing lots of running, lots of gym stuff at home. It's been a couple of months of good hard work," Smith said.

"I haven't touched a bat really, couple of little drills at home but that's about it. I've tried to switch off from it a little bit, which I don't do very often, but focusing on myself getting fit and strong and refreshing mentally, and when we get our chance to play again I'll be good to go.

"There are no nets or anything, so I've just been trying to switch off, I've done masterclasses at home that I've shared with a few people on Instagram and things like that.

"But other than that, I really haven't picked up my cricket bats. So it's been a bit different but I'm sure in the long run it's probably a good thing just to freshen up after what was a pretty long year, year-and-a-half."

The ICC look set to introduce a new rule to ban the use of spit to shine the ball once cricket returns, with bowlers often using saliva to assist with finding swing.

Smith suggested the rule change could hand the batting side an unfair advantage and hopes any changes to regulations maintain an even contest.

"I've always been one to want a fair contest between bat and ball, even as a batter, so if that's taken away I don't think that's great," he said. 

"Whether they can find different ways to do certain things. It'll be hard, I actually spit on my hands most balls, that's how I get grip and stuff.

"It might take some adjusting to get used to certain things like that, that's something for the ICC to figure out what they want to do going forward and making new regulations.

"We'll see where it all lands, everything is up in the air at the moment."

Steve Smith believes playing in the Indian Premier League later this year would be an enjoyable alternative option if the T20 World Cup is postponed.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) last week stated it is still planning for the World Cup to start in Australia on October 18, but other options are being explored due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been reported that the competition will be put back to next year, with the IPL - which could not get under way as scheduled in March - taking place instead of the global event.

Smith, who returned to training with New South Wales on Monday, would prefer to play in a World Cup, but the former Australia captain would also relish the opportunity to lead the Rajasthan Royals later this year. 

The top-ranked Test batsman in the world said: "I think when you're playing for your country at a World Cup, that's the pinnacle for one-day or T20 cricket, so of course I'd prefer to play in that.

"But if that doesn't happen and the IPL's there, and they postpone [the T20 World Cup], then so be it. IPL's also a terrific tournament as a domestic tournament. 

"That's out of everyone's control at the moment, players are just doing what we're told and going where we need to go and playing whatever's on at that stage.

"I guess there'll be some more news about it soon, probably some decisions to be made soon, so I'm sure we'll all find out and know where we're going to be.

"I personally haven't really thought about it, I think it'd just be going off the advice of the professionals and the governments and essentially doing what we're told.

"If that happens then great, if not then there's just so much going on in the world right now that cricket kind of seems a little bit irrelevant. So, we'll get back when we're told to and until then it's sit tight, get fit and strong and freshen up mentally."

Cricket Australia are also considering a request from the England and Wales Cricket Board to tour England for a limited-overs series in September, two months later than planned.

Widely regarded as the best Australian batsman since Don Bradman, Steven Smith began his Test career as a leg spinner who batted at number 8.

However, in a matter of five years, he was the number-one batsman in the world.

Smith made his Test debut at Lords in July 2010, playing both Tests against Pakistan.

In the second Test, he was called to bowl only 10 overs and took no wickets. However, batting with the tail, he scored 77, helping Australia to set a competitive target after having been bowled out for 88 in the first innings.

In the 2010–11 Australian summer, Smith played three Tests in the 2010–11 Ashes series, this time playing more as a batsman, taking the number six spot in the order. His performances were solid during the series, getting a number of starts and scoring two half-centuries.

Since then he has rapidly scored more than 7000 Test runs including 26 centuries and now boasts a 62 average, the second-highest Test average of all time.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Steven Peter Devereux Smith

Born: June 2, 1989, Sydney, New South Wales

Playing role: Middle-order batsman

Batting style: Right-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm leg spin

 

Test Career: Australia (2010-Present)

Mat        Inns        NO     Runs      HS     Ave        BF        SR        100s        50s

73           131         16      7227      239    62.84     13068    55.30     26           29 

     

Career highlights

  • Only player to win ICC Test Player of the Year more than once
  • 2nd most consecutive 1000-run performances in calendar year (2014-2017)
  • Fastest to 7000 Test runs (126 innings)
  • First batsman to score over 500 runs in three consecutive Ashes series
  • 2nd best batting average of players over 20 Test matches (62.84)

Steve Smith and Virat Kohli are talismanic figures who set the tone for their respective international sides, according to David Warner.

Australia's Smith and India's Kohli are two of the finest batsmen of their generation, occupying first and second spot respectively in the current Test rankings.

The duo are set to meet if India's tour of Australia – scheduled to begin in October – goes ahead, although significant doubt remains as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a threat.

If it should go ahead, Warner expects to see great things from the two leading men, who he says act as figureheads for their sides.

"When it comes to cricket, they both have got the mental strength, the mental capacity to score runs," Warner told Cricbuzz.

"They stabilise, they boost morale – if they score runs, everyone else's morale is up. If they are out cheaply, you almost sense that on the field that everyone is … [down on morale and thinking] now we all have to step up. It's a very bizarre situation.

"They both love spending time in the middle. Virat's passion and drive to score runs is different to what Steve's would be.

"Steve is going out there for a hit in the middle, that's how he sees things. He's hitting them out in the middle, he's having fun, he's enjoying himself, just does not want to get out.

"Virat, obviously, doesn't want to get out, but he knows if he spends a certain amount of time out there, he's going to score plenty of runs at a rapid rate.

"He's going to get on top of you. That allows the guys coming in [to play their own game], especially in the Indian team you've got a lot of players who can be flamboyant as well."

Ben Stokes has described Australia legend Steve Smith as both "strange" and a "genius".

The two are international rivals, with England all-rounder Stokes on the opposite side of the bitter Ashes divide.

However, they are team-mates with the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League and Stokes sees the same qualities in Smith whether he is playing with him or against him.

"He is still strange to play against and he's still strange to play with, and the best thing about it is that he admits it, he knows it," Stokes told the Rajasthan Royals Podcast.

"But I feel to be a genius you have to be a bit strange and you know he's certainly both.

"Even though he plays for Australia, biggest rivals of England, you've just got to hold your hands up sometimes to players like that and say, 'Yes, you're on a different level when it comes to batting.'"

Smith enjoyed a stunning Ashes series in England last year, scoring 774 runs in four matches at an average of 110.57.

Stokes was the hosts' star performer, his 441 runs coming at an average of 55.12, but he considers himself a fundamentally different type of batsman to Smith, who he says is "on all the time".

"I could never be like that," said Stokes. "Personally, I could not think about cricket in the way that Steve does when it comes to batting.

"Obviously, he's on all the time. That's why he averages 60 [62.84] after whatever he does in Test cricket. But that's not for me. It is for him, [and] who's to say who is right or wrong."

Tim Paine would "fully support" Steve Smith if he succeeds him as Australia Test captain but says there are other strong contenders for the job

Smith's two-year ban from leadership roles at international level for his part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal ended this week.

Paine stepped up to replace Smith as skipper following his suspension and although the 35-year-old is in the twilight of his career, he has no intention of standing down just yet.

The wicketkeeper would back Smith should he get another chance to lead Australia, but believes there are alternative options for the powers that be to consider.

Paine said of Smith: "He's captain of the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and Welsh Fire in The Hundred; it's something he loves doing.

"If Steve Smith decides that's the way he wants to go then I'd fully support him in trying to do so again."

He added: "We've got a number of guys to choose from who can put their hand up.

"There's Steve Smith, who's done it before, or the people who are developing underneath like a Travis Head or an Alex Carey -- Marnus Labuschagne and Pat Cummins are other ones.

"We're starting to build some real depth so that when my time's up we've got a number of options."

Paine has given thought to when he will step aside during a time of such uncertainty amid a coronavirus shutdown, but is giving nothing away.

"I know what I'm thinking, in terms of how far I can play on and we're [Paine, the selectors and head coach Justin Langer] on the same page," he told reporters via video conference.

Could Steve Smith ever captain Australia again? That is a question that took on new relevance on Sunday after Smith's two-year leadership ban ended.

Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were suspended from cricket after a ball-tampering scandal on the 2018 tour of South Africa.

A scheme was cooked up to use sandpaper to doctor the ball, with Smith being aware of the plan but doing nothing to prevent it going ahead.

Disgraced by the incident, Smith was served with a one-year playing ban that began on March 29, 2018, with a further 12-month suspension from leading Australia in any format of the game.

That period has now expired, which could open the door for Smith to return to the captaincy, although Tim Paine is the current Test skipper and Aaron Finch has the limited-overs job locked down.

Paine, 35, has hinted he may be nearing the end of his Test career, while 30-year-old Smith previously flourished in the role and has shone as a batsman since returning to the team.

Smith has attempted to deflect questions about returning to his former job as Australia's Test leader.

Speaking in November 2019, he said: "My record probably is better when I'm captain than when I'm not. That sort of pressure doesn't really bother me. But I'm not thinking about captaincy or anything at this point in time.

"I'm really comfortable where I’m at and I’m enjoying what I’m doing."

March 25, 2013 proved a momentous day for Tiger Woods following a rocky few years.

An all-time golf great, Woods' career appeared to be spiralling out of control towards the end of the 2000s.

But he was back at the top of the pile in March 2013, signalling an impressive renaissance.

It was also a notable – albeit controversial – day for Mike Tyson back in 1995, as the infamous boxer was released from prison after being convicted of rape in 1992.

Below, we look at those and the other major events to happen in the sporting world on March 25.

 

1958 - Sugar Ray Robinson claims historic fifth title

The phrase "pound-for-pound" essentially came into being because of Sugar Ray Robinson – a fighter whose performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions earned him renown. A professional boxer in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Robinson is regarded by many as the greatest of all-time and on this day in 1958 he became the first in history to win a world championship five times when he defeated Carmen Basilio.

1982 - Wayne Gretzky reaches 200 points for season

Wayne Gretzky's influence on ice hockey is unrivalled and he remains comfortably NHL's all-time leading points (goals and assists) scorer in history, with 2,857 – more than 900 clear of his closest challenger Jaromir Jagr. One of his finest accomplishments was becoming the first player to rack up 200 points in a single season during 1981-81, helping Edmonton Oilers to their first NHL title. He reached 200 with an assist early on against Calgary Flames, before adding another three points in that encounter. Gretzky finished the season with 212, 107 more than anyone else on the team.

1995 - Mike Tyson released from jail

After serving less than half of his six-year sentence for rape, Mike Tyson was released on March 25, 1995. He went on to ease through comeback fights against Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr, with Tyson's management accused of organising "tomato cans" to secure straightforward victories upon his return.

2013 - Tiger Woods regains world no.1 spot

After dominating golf in the 2000s, Woods endured a turbulent period from late 2009. Persistent injury problems, issues in his private life and struggles with a new swing all played a part in Woods dropping to 58th in November 2011. In March 2013, he was back on top thanks to victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, beating Justin Rose by two strokes.

2018 - Steve Smith punished for sandpaper gate

In March 2018, some Australia players were caught out in arguably the most infamous cricketing scandal ever. After admitting involvement in Cameron Bancroft's attempts at ball-tampering with sandpaper, captain Steve Smith was handed a one-match ban and fined 100 per cent of his fee by the International Cricket Council on March 25. That was just the tip of the iceberg, however. Smith and vice-captain David Warner were both banned for a year by Cricket Australia (CA), while Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension for his part in what CA labelled "cheating".

Australia let a promising position slip as South Africa levelled the Twenty20 series with a 12-run win in Port Elizabeth.

The tourists crushed the Proteas by 107 runs in the opening game of their limited-overs tour on Friday, bowling their opponents out for just 89.

They appeared set to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after restricting South Africa to 158-4 despite Quinton de Kock's 70.

However, they slumped from 98-1 midway through the 13th over to finish on 146-6, well shy of a target perceived to be below par at the halfway stage of the contest.

Steve Smith stole the show in South Africa's powerplay, despite the hosts powering to 59-0 thanks mainly to the efforts of skipper De Kock.

Smith produced an incredible piece of fielding in the sixth over, catching a shot over the deep midwicket boundary from De Kock and throwing it back across the rope before he hit the ground to prevent what looked a certain six.

De Kock struck five fours and four sixes but was eventually caught at long off as Australia fought back, Rassie van der Dussen's 26-ball 37 the other primary contribution as the Proteas' early impetus petered out.

David Warner (67 not out) and Australia captain Aaron Finch put on 48 for the first wicket in 4.4 overs before the impressive Lungi Ngidi (3-41) struck.

Warner and Smith appeared in cruise control, yet both could be considered guilty of not scoring quickly enough and the latter went for 29 off 26 balls when Faf du Plessis raced in from the boundary to claim an excellent catch.

Alex Carey fell to Ngidi for 14 as South Africa's death bowling came to the fore.

Ngidi claimed his third when Du Plessis produced more brilliance in the field, parrying a high shot down the ground to David Miller to remove Mitchell Marsh, though Australia still needed just 20 off the final two overs with six wickets in hand.

Yet Kagiso Rabada drew a leading edge from Matthew Wade at the start of the 19th, during which Warner spent just one delivery on strike. 

Australia required 17 off the final six balls but could manage only four, Anrich Nortje bowling Ashton Agar as South Africa completed a fine comeback to ensure the third and final match on Wednesday will be a decider.

Steve Smith plans to "play along and have fun" with South Africa fans who dish out hostility over an ill-fated 2018 tour that cost him the Australia captaincy.

Smith and David Warner were suspended for a year and Cameron Bancroft received a nine-month ban for their part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal during the third Test against the Proteas almost two years ago.

Both Smith and Warner are back in South Africa for Twenty20 International and ODI series', starting with a contest in the shortest format at the Wanderers on Friday.

Former skipper Smith had to contend with plenty of jibes in England last year after serving his ban and is expecting more of the same over the coming weeks.

"They are hostile at the best of times here," Smith told reporters on Wednesday. "It doesn't bother me too much.

"Like [coach] Justin Langer said we had the dress rehearsal in England where there was a fair bit going on but I honestly don't notice it, particularly when I am batting. I don't really hear anything that's going on and I block it all out.

"Maybe a little bit when I am fielding. But then again it's just words, it doesn't affect me. I think I will be doing some outfielding so I'm looking forward to it. I will smile and laugh and play along and have fun."

Prolific batsman Smith may be braced for verbals while on the field, but revealed he has received a warm welcome off it.

He added: "It's nice to be back playing in South Africa. The last time I was here things didn't end overly well, but I've also got really fond memories of playing here.

"Just walking into the hotel in Sandton, initially I was like, ‘the last time I left here it wasn't pretty’. It wasn't the best time in my life. But I've moved on from that and learned a lot.

"I've been back playing for a year now. I’m really enjoying it and I feel like I’m playing well. I'm in a nice place.

"Everywhere I have been the people have been lovely. Guys have come up and taken some photos and been really nice.

"It's been normal, the same as compared to when I've been here previously. It's a terrific place to tour and I'm glad to be back."

David Warner says he is most likely to retire from Twenty20 internationals over the coming years in order to prolong his Test and ODI careers with Australia.

The batsman, who this week won his third Allan Border Medal, is eager to play the upcoming T20 World Cup tournaments in 2020 and 2021, though he is pondering stepping down from the shortest form of the game after that.

Warner was also named Australia's Twenty20 player of the year at Monday's awards ceremony.

But the 33-year-old did not play the most recent edition of the Big Bash League and the international T20s could be the next to go.

"I don't have a BBL team; I took a break during this period, and that was about my body and my mind, making sure I'm getting ready for the next series that comes up," said Warner.  

"If you look at T20 internationals, we've got back-to-back World Cups as well, that's probably a format that could be one I'd probably drop in a few years.

"I have to look at the schedule; it's going to be very difficult [for me] to play all three forms, and good luck to all the guys who want to keep playing that. 

"You talk to guys like AB de Villiers and Virender Sehwag, these guys who've done it for a long time, it does become challenging. 

"Having three young kids and my wife at home all the time, the constant travelling becomes very difficult. 

"If it was to come down to [leaving out] one format, it would probably be the international T20s."

The BBL has increased in size every year and is now a mammoth 61-match event, though Warner insisted that is not the only factor at play in his decision to step aside.

Warner added: "For me it's about working out timeframes with different series, identify when you need a bit of a rest.

"Generally, we play a Test series and go into a one-day series. We went to India and then generally you have a one-day series at home, back-to-back games and then you go away. 

"So, it was a bit different this year; I was able to have that opportunity to have that break which I'm grateful for.

"A lot of the guys try to go back and play as much as they can. Sometimes, you look at the [BBL] finals as an example, they come back and play the final.

"You're taking someone's spot as well, which is always tough as a player, you don't want to come back and just take someone's spot for one game."

David Warner showed his emotion and expressed gratitude for being allowed back into the Australia set-up as he accepted his third Allan Border Medal.

Having been reintegrated to the team after his involvement in the ball-tampering scandal against South Africa in 2018 resulted in a one-year ban, Warner edged out Steve Smith by one vote to win the country's top individual prize.

He expressed his thanks to team-mates, coaches and Cricket Australia after beating Smith and last year's winner Pat Cummins to the accolade.

Warner also fought back the tears as he thanked his parents and wife Candice, who he described as his "rock and inspiration".

"I'm taken aback by this," said Warner. "It has been quite challenging. I want to thank Cricket Australia, Belinda Clark, Kevin Roberts and Justin Langer for that opportunity [to come back].

"You were really working your backsides off behind the scenes to reintegrate the three of us [Warner, Smith and Cameron Bancroft] into the cricketing family.

"Everything to get us back in there amongst the guys, taking us to Dubai, starting that way, was absolutely fantastic and the way [ODI captain] Aaron Finch and [Test captain] Tim Paine accepted us and were always in contact with us, we really appreciate that. 

"I want to thank my home club team at Randwick-Petersham for giving me that opportunity to go out there and play grade cricket. 

"I realised a lot of things during that time off that we don't actually understand or realise when we're in this bubble, the importance of what this game is and the smiles on the faces that we bring to a lot of people.

"Sitting back and reflecting upon the time I had away from the game, you don't realise the importance and effect it has on everyone. It put things in perspective.

"Getting cricket taken away from you, something you've always dreamed of, it really hurt, so I'm just extremely grateful to be accepted back by Cricket Australia, the peers and also by the fans. 

"I had mixed emotions about how I was going to be received back here at home - I definitely knew what I was in for in England and obviously in a couple of weeks' time [in South Africa]. But it's just been remarkable to come back.

"Standing here I'm just really proud to have that opportunity again." 

Warner struggled in the Ashes but otherwise enjoyed a superb year across all formats.

But he thought his woes against England would have cost him a shot at the Allan Border Medal, which only Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting have won on more occasions.

"It was a shock and a surprise," he said. "When it is that close, you really don't know so it's a big surprise to be honest.

"I had an absolutely horrendous Ashes and generally, across the Test matches, that's where a lot of the votes are polled, so I didn't think I had a chance.

"I really had the hunger and determination to come back and do the best for our team. We've been great across all three formats for 12 months, I couldn't be any prouder to stand here and receive the award."

David Warner has won the Allan Border Medal for the third time after edging out team-mate Steve Smith by the narrowest of margins.

Australia opener Warner polled 194 votes, one more than Smith, while last year's winner Pat Cummins was also close behind with 185.

Marnus Labuschagne won the award for Men's Test Player of the Year, with Smith again coming a close second, while Aaron Finch claimed the ODI honour for the first time and Warner made it a double by landing the T20I gong.

Warner previously won the Allan Border Medal in 2016 and 2017, with four-time winners Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke the only players to have won the accolade, considered the most prestigious individual prize in Australian men's cricket, on more occasions.

The 33-year-old impressed across all formats during last season, scoring three centuries at the Cricket World Cup at an average of 71.88.

Warner struggled as Australia retained the Ashes in England but rebounded with superb home Test performances against Pakistan, versus whom he scored 335 not out in Adelaide, and then New Zealand.

The batsman's T20 form was spectacular, as he averaged 147.61 in three clashes with Sri Lanka and 140 in another trio of matches against Pakistan, helping him to see off 2019 winner Glenn Maxwell in the voting for the T20 honour in addition to the Allan Border Medal.

Warner and Smith both impressed as they returned from one-year suspensions in 2019 after their involvement in the ball-tampering affair the previous year.

The Australian Cricket Awards are voted for by players, the media and umpires after each Australia game.

Fast bowler Wes Agar was named The Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year, while in the women's game The Belinda Clark Award went to Ellyse Perry, who like Warner is a three-time winner of the top prize available.

Josh Philippe's half-century lifted the Sydney Sixers to their second Big Bash League title with a 19-run win in a rain-affected final against Melbourne Stars, who finished as runners-up for the second successive season.

Heavy rainfall had threatened to wash out the game at the SCG on Saturday, but the conditions eased and there was enough time for a 12-over match in which the Sixers came out on top.

The hosts – champions in the inaugural 2011-12 campaign – were in trouble at 68-4 but Philippe smashed 52 off 29 balls to guide them to 116-5, Adam Zampa finally removing the opener with the final delivery of the innings.

Despite possessing explosive batsmen Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell in their ranks, the Stars did not get firing until Nick Larkin and Nathan Coulter-Nile put on an unbroken 43-run stand for the seventh wicket.

However, spinners Nathan Lyon (2-19) and Steve O'Keefe (2-27) took two wickets apiece, while Josh Hazlewood and Ben Dwarshuis kept the run rate down as the Stars suffered a third final defeat.

 

A STRONG START

James Vince made just two off nine deliveries before picking out mid-on off Daniel Worrall, but Steve Smith (21) ensured the Sixers stayed on track after Maxwell put the Stars in.

Smith and Philippe took the fight to the Stars and the latter claimed four fours and three maximums to score his third fifty in four BBL games.

Although captain Moises Henriques fell for seven and Maxwell removed Daniel Hughes for a golden duck, Philippe established a 48-run stand with Jordan Silk (27 not out) to set what looked to be a par score.

 

HISTORY REPEATING?

When the teams met in the qualifier, the Sixers bowled the Stars out for the lowest score in their history – just 99.

There must have been a sense of deja vu when they slumped to 25-4 after 4.1 overs, with key batsmen Stoinis and Maxwell departing early.

Stoinis was the highest-scoring player in the BBL this year and plundered a record 147 when the teams first met this season, but he made just 10 before holing out to deep midwicket off Lyon and O'Keefe snared Maxwell lbw to leave the Stars in dire straits.

 

STARS BURNT OUT

Smith run out Peter Handscomb – off O'Keefe to leave the Stars 54-6.

Despite the impressive efforts of Larkin, who hit two fours and as many sixes in an unbeaten 38, and Coulter-Nile, the visitors were unable to come back from the early setbacks and fell to a resounding defeat.

Steve Smith helped the Sydney Sixers to a seven-wicket win over the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League on Saturday.

Aaron Finch (109 off 68 balls) had led the struggling Renegades to 175-5 from their 20 overs at the SCG.

But after Josh Philippe's 61, Smith ensured the Sixers moved back into second in the table.

The Australia star made an unbeaten 66 off 40 balls as the Sixers reached their target with eight balls to spare.

 

FINCH PUNISHES SIXERS

Finch gave the Sixers chances when he was on 39 and 40, dropped by Jordan Silk and Philippe.

Another chance went begging when Finch was on 62, dropped by Ben Dwarshuis – who would face further punishment.

Bowling the next over, Dwarshuis was taken for 22 runs by Finch, including a six and three fours.

Finch went on to notch his eighth T20 century to guide the Renegades to what looked like a competitive total.

VINCE UNLUCKY

James Vince and Philippe helped the Sixers make a fine start to their chase, reaching 49 without loss after five overs.

But Vince's unfortunate dismissal would slow the Sixers down.

Will Sutherland dropped a return catch off Philippe, but the ball ricocheted onto the stumps at the non-striker's end, running Vince out for 22 off 13.

SMITH STEPS UP

That allowed Smith to take over.

A reverse sweep for four from Smith off Mohammad Nabi (1-27) in the 15th over helped the Sixers need 45 off the final five overs.

Smith almost went in the next over, with Nathan McSweeney producing a brilliant piece of fielding on the boundary, catching the ball as it was flying for six, but throwing it back as he fell over the rope.

But that would be the Renegades' last chance as Smith took control to lead the Sixers to victory.

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