Even Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann admits he is looking forward to seeing Steve Smith’s long awaited Big Bash League return at the Gabba tonight.
But Lehmann will ensure Brisbane keep their eyes on the prize, saying only a finals berth will be a pass mark for his misfiring side.
Former national captain Smith will play his first BBL match in six years when he walks out onto the Gabba after returning from Australia’s just completed one-day international stint in India.
It seemed to be the last thing Lehmann wanted to hear as his sixth-placed outfit fought for a top five finals spot with three games remaining.
Especially after Brisbane suffered a record 10 wicket collapse in Sunday’s 44-run loss to Melbourne Renegades at the Gabba.
But rather than be daunted by Smith’s long awaited BBL return, Lehmann welcomed it.
The former national coach admitted he couldn’t wait to see who would come out on top in the batting stakes with the Heat also welcoming back in-form Australian international Marnus Labuschagne.
“He’s a pretty good player isn’t he,” an understated Lehmann said of Smith.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere. You get Smith back, Marnus coming in – it’s two quality sides.”
Not that Lehmann wished Smith any success on Thursday.
The Heat mentor said they would have to win their next three games for their season to be deemed a success.
“You want to make finals, that’s the pass mark and we have to play well in the next three games to do that,” he said.
“Ideally we would love to have the finals at home but we would have to win all three games to have an opportunity there.”
However, overcoming Smith’s Sixers will be easier said than done after the master batsman regained his mojo on the ODI tour of India, posting scores of 98 and 131.
And in an ominous warning, Smith said it would be no trouble switching into T20 mode.
“I never felt out of touch, just out of runs,” he said of his hot and cold form this summer.
“I spent a lot of time in the middle. I just struggled to score at times with certain fields that were set and tactics used against me throughout the summer.
“In one-day cricket (in India) it was nice to spend some time in the middle and get into a bit of a groove and get some runs.
“Now I am just ramping up to T20. It is just changing the gears a little bit and I am looking forward to that at the Gabba.”