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Smith back for BBL's Sixers with eye on T20 World Cup

Cricket - Ashes 2019 - Fifth Test - England v Australia - Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 15, 2019 Australia's Steve Smith as Australia celebrate retaining the Ashes after drawing the series Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Boyers

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia’s top batsman Steve Smith says he is returning to the Big Bash League domestic tournament for the Sydney Sixers with an eye on next year’s Twenty20 World Cup on home soil.

The world’s top-ranked test batsman was part of the Sixers team that won the first edition of the tournament in 2011 and last appeared in the BBL 2014.

Smith has played 36 internationals for Australia in the shortest format of the game and is expected to be a key member of the squad looking to win the World Cup for the first time.

“I’ll love to be part of the World Cup. I was part of the 50-over World Cup in Australia last time and it was probably one of the best six weeks of my life,” Smith said in a video interview on the team’s website.

“It was amazing and I’ll love to be part of the next one. Obviously the Big Bash is the breeding ground now for T20 cricket in Australia and I’ll do my best to help the guys win some games.”

The 30-year-old will be available for the Sixers’ last few games of the regular season and the finals series if they qualify following Australia’s one-day international tour of India in January.

“When the schedule came out and I saw there was a chance to wear the Magenta again I jumped at the opportunity and look forward to joining up with the team after my January national team commitments have ended,” he added.

Smith will also lead the Rajasthan Royals in next year’s Indian Premier League T20 tournament, the franchise said in a statement.

The team, coached by former Australian cricketer Andrew McDonald, said they have retained the services of English internationals Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler among others for the next season.

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford and Toby Davis