Moises Henriques dismissed suggestions that the Sixers were breaking the spirit of cricket and insisted they played completely within the rules by retiring Jordan Silk during their remarkable semi-final victory over the Strikers.
The Sixers came under fire as Silk – the regular middle-class batsman who came in at number eight – retired on the last ball of the innings due to a dodgy hamstring.
The interesting tactical decision came just after he got to the crease.
The Sixers’ decision to do so left the Strikers feeling hurt at first, with former Australian captain Adam Gilchrist commenting on the Fox Cricket saying that “my gut says I don’t like this”.
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However, Henriques said it was a deliberate move before sending Silk into the battlefield and hoped that if the righthander went on strike, he could aim for the short line.
“Well, he went to the short limit hoping that if he was on strike he would have that short limit,” Henriques told Fox Cricket after the dramatic win of the final ball.
“If he hit at nine he could have a runner, we sent him at eight to try and get some boundaries in that last over and then as soon as he wasn’t able to face that ball, and we needed that person to run, we knew he couldn’t run, so we thought we would retire him and have someone who can.”
With the slogan “spirit of cricket” thrown at him, Henriques suggested that the Sixers broke any moral compass by retiring Silk and instead said the scheme was endangering the health of his players.
“I don’t understand how (we broke the spirit of cricket),” Henriques replied.
“They are clearly following the rules of the game.
“I mean, unfortunately, we had a guy (Silk) with a hamstring, one of the strongest guys in the league, it probably has to do with our schedule, five flights in eight days and so many back-to-back games, I don’t really see how that is (reasonable).
“We try to back up with guys with minor injuries and so on; he normally strikes at five o’clock, so the fact that he went in at eight o’clock I think we’re already sacrificing enough.”
Henriques later doubled his stance after Strikers coach Jason Gillespie said it was a “good tactic”.
“I clearly felt this way before our decision was made and I still believe it was the right decision,” he tweeted.
“However, the opposition coach who is publicly behind the decision shows class and in my opinion a great attitude towards the game and innovation.”
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The Sixers recently lost three players, including star wicketkeeper batsman Josh Philippe, recently to Covid, while Daniel Hughes’ injury meant the Sixers had four players unavailable for the semi-finals.
Calf injuries to Henriques and veteran spinner Steve O’Keefe will force the Sixers to field a squad for Friday’s final against the Scorchers in Melbourne, with the Sixers having just 12 fit players.
While 12 is enough to team up, the two extra X-Factor players allowed in match day rosters of 13 players have the Sixers behind the eight-ball.
In light of that, it makes the decision not to let Australian batsman Steve Smith play any more perplexed.
Former Australian ODI opener Mark Waugh had no qualms with the decision to retire Silk, especially given Cricket Australia’s tough stance on not letting Smith play.
“I’m happy with it, I’m fine with it,” Waugh told Fox Cricket.
“All the things that have happened to the Sixers in this tournament – Steve Smith not being able to play etc – have played by the rules tonight, so I’m happy with it.”
Gilchrist also changed tone, describing the tactical decision as a bit of quick thinking.
“I doubted how it played out,” Gilchrist said. “I thought, ‘Wait a minute, is this right?’
“But when I think about it, I agree with Junior (Waugh), it’s within the rules and it’s actually pretty quick thinking, clever thinking, and that’s years and years of experienced cricket heads coming together there and I can’t do anything else then do to sit back and go, well done, they took an opportunity there within the rules.”
Strikers captain Peter Siddle, speaking after the game, downplayed the controversial moment.
“You guys can retire at the end of the day,” Siddle said. “He can retire, it’s not really a big problem.
“Of course I was disappointed then. It’s just retirement isn’t it?… That’s just part of the game.”