The club versus country debate has been triggered again with the likelihood of Usman Khawaja carrying the drinks for Australia in Brisbane on Friday night rather than featuring for Sydney Thunder in their must-win local derby at the SCG the following evening.
The Thunder have been left frustrated at the anticipated absence of arguably their best player for the clash with the Sixers after Khawaja was called into the Australian one-day squad to replace David Warner, who is soon to become a father for a second time.
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Khawaja included in one-day squad
Left-hander comes in to fill the gap as David Warner departs on paternity leave.
However, as willing subjects of Cricket Australia and their public mantra dictating the primacy of the national team they have had to cop the left-hander's call-up on the chin.
"The Australian team comes first and we understand that. That is a just a fact of life," Thunder general manager Nick Cummins said on Wednesday.
"Probably the first time it happened [to the Thunder] in BBL03 it was hard to take but once you understand that, you realise it's always a risk and something you take into account when you're planning. It's one of these things."
There was still a slight chance on Wednesday that Khawaja could be released for Saturday's twilight derby, which the Thunder have to win to be in the calculations for the semi-finals for the first time. The Thunder were told, though, that would only occur if for some reason Warner was able to return early for Sunday's third ODI against India in Melbourne.
The contrasting focuses of those those running franchise and international cricket have caused drama before. Most notably, then Sixers general manager Stuart Clark fumed in 2012 when he was told by CA he had to send Shane Watson home early from the rich Champions League to rest ahead of a looming Test series against South Africa.
The Thunder, by comparison, have acquiesced in the Khawaja scenario despite his absence being hard to swallow given how much hinges on Saturday's match and how important he is to their cause. There is no one in better form in the country, not even Steve Smith arguably, and the 29-year-old's prolific summer in Test cricket has transferred to the BBL, where he has scores of 109 not out and 62 in two appearances, at a strike rate of 152.
The likelihood, though, that Khawaja won't be in the XI for Australia in Brisbane, with Shaun Marsh having already been in the squad as a back-up, adds to a frustrating situation.
Interestingly, the Thunder have their ambassador Mark Waugh on the national selection panel but he is charged with placing Australian interests first. Khawaja, too, has been thrust into an awkward position, but was not about to knock back a call-up to the squad three years after the last of his three ODI games.
"It's never nice because I really wanted to play that last game, too," Khawaja said. "It's a very important game. But it's just what we do now. Big Bash is on at the same time as the international stuff and at the end of the day it's about representing your country and doing what you can to help your country win cricket games. So I can't complain."
Whatever the outcome the Thunder's boss argues the Khawaja dilemma is a prime example of why CA should not entertain thoughts of privatising the BBL, as was called for by Australian Cricketers' Association president Greg Dyer on Wednesday.
"We understand that the greater good is the Australian national team winning," Cummins said. "Someone who has private equity [in a team] and when there is prizemoney involved depending on where you finish, they may not share the same view.
"As a private owner you care about whether your Big Bash team wins, so you might not care at all about the national team. Therefore a decision like this wouldn't be received well."