Injured Samuels to be replaced by Alex Hales
The Big Bash League (BBL) Technical Committee has allowed the Melbourne Renegades to replace Marlon Samuels with England batsman Alex Hales, after the West Indian was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament due to the injury sustained during Sunday night's fiery clash against the Melbourne Stars.
Samuels suffered a suspected fracture of the eye-socket when struck in the face, via a top-edge, while facing Lasith Malinga.
The injury brought to an end a turbulent tournament for Samuels. Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann and Adelaide Strikers coach Darren Berry had been charged for breaches of the Code of Behaviour when they publicly questioned the legitimacy of Samuels' bowling action. Berry got into a heated discussion with Samuels prior to his side's match with the Renegades, before Samuels became the pantomime villain again against the Stars on Sunday when he embroiled himself in arguments with both David Hussey and Shane Warne, who was later fined and suspended for the incident.
Samuels' absence won't create a void as his replacement Hales will be available for the Renegades' remaining games - their last preliminary match against the Sydney Sixers, and the semi-finals.
Hales has played 14 Twenty20 internationals for England over the past 18 months. He made 99 from just 68 balls against West Indies in June on his home ground at Trent Bridge. It is one of four international half-centuries he has scored, the latest coming against India during a two-match tour in December.
The final round of preliminary matches begins when Melbourne Stars host Sydney Thunder at the MCG. Malinga has also been withdrawn from the Stars' team as he joins the Sri Lankan squad in preparation for the ODI series, starting on Friday. The Australian ODI squad members David Hussey, Clint McKay and Glenn Maxwell have been allowed to play for the Stars, as well as Usman Khawaja, who will represent the winless Thunder. But should the Stars make the finals, they will lose Hussey, McKay, and Maxwell, and reports suggest an assessment on Malinga's availability for the semi-final will be made closer to the time should the Stars qualify for the final four.
The Stars called up former England allrounder Dimitri Mascarenhas as cover for Malinga. Mascarenhas took two wickets in both the semi-final and final of the England domestic T20 tournament last year to help Hampshire win the title. He also represented Hampshire at the Champions League, and played two Twenty20s for Wellington in New Zealand on December 28 and January 1. Mascarenhas must play the Sydney Thunder to be available for selection in the semi-final should the Stars qualify.
Meanwhile, Hobart Hurricanes batsman Travis Birt was fined $1000 by Cricket Australia for a Code of Behaviour breach. Birt was initially cited for striking the advertising foam on the rope after he was given out against the Sydney Thunder but was not fined over the incident. Birt was, however, fined for breaching Rule 9: Detrimental Public Comment when he criticised umpires for "ruining games," on Twitter on December 23.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth