Warner, Smith, Bailey released to BBL
Victory in the Ashes has allowed Cricket Australia to make a concession to the start of the Big Bash League, releasing David Warner, Steven Smith and George Bailey to take part in the opening round of the Twenty20 competition this week.
Warner, Smith and Bailey were all key contributors to Australia's series-clinching win at the WACA Ground, the two New South Welshmen each making centuries while the Tasmanian put the capstone on the hosts' second innings by ransacking 28 runs from a single over bowled by James Anderson.
Australian cricket's priorities have been hotly debated over the past few seasons, with the commercial demands of the BBL and the Champions League often running headlong into the best laid plans for the national team. CA's team performance manager Pat Howard has engaged in plenty of debate with BBL teams over the issue of player availability for round one, but the swift and comprehensive nature of Australia's Ashes defeat of England has offered some room to manoeuvre between the end of the Perth Test and the Boxing Day match in Melbourne.
"We have worked closely with the BBL clubs for several months about Test player availability given the early stages of the tournament are played while the Ashes series is still in progress," Howard said. "Our Test squad has a very specific training and recovery program throughout the Ashes and we are keen to maintain that where possible.
"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."
Apart from Warner going back to the Sydney Thunder, Bailey playing for the Hobart Hurricanes and Smith the Sydney Sixers, the reserve fast bowlers Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile have also been allowed to play in round one.
Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon have all been granted time to rest following their exertions over the first three Tests.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here