In a Big Bash match against Adelaide Strikers earlier this year, Sydney Sixers sent injured batter Jordan Silk to the final over, only to retire him once he had reached the non-striker’s end. 

Carlos Brathwaite became the first batter in the history of the T20 Blast to be retired out for tactical reasons when competing for Birmingham versus Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston in a rain-affected eight-over match. Samit Patel of Nottinghamshire became the second, less than an hour later. 

In the event that there was some ambiguity there, Ravichandran Ashwin's act of selflessness for the Rajasthan franchise in the Indian T20 League in April marked the point that the tactical retirement has become widely accepted. “We haven’t cracked T20 cricket fully yet,” Ashwin said by way of explanation. “These things happen constantly in football.”

The tactical retirement is a relatively recent concept that has been greatly influenced by the emergence of T20 and its emphasis on marginal benefits. Stephen Fleming, the head coach of Team Chennai in the Indian T20 League, believes that intentional retirements destroy "the beauty of the battle" by allowing struggling batters to leave without solving their problems in the middle. 

Some contend that in T20, retiring a batter deprives the fielding team of one of a wicket's primary advantages: a dot ball. It is likewise frustrating to witness a healthy batter leave the field on his own volition rather than as a result of being beaten by a piece of quality.

Implications of Voluntary Retirements in Cricket

The rise of the planned retirement has tactical and cultural ramifications that are significant. In terms of strategy, it places a greater emphasis on alternatives and match-ups and offers a new minigame. Some teams may find success by keeping wickets in hand and using tactical retirements in the final few overs.

The tactical retirement's most intriguing feature, though, is how it denotes a further turn away from the individual and toward the team. At its greatest level, T20 gradually shifts from a game of individual expression and problem-solving to one of systems and plans, shifting focus from the captain and players on the field to the general manager, the boardroom, and the analyst.

Mark Butcher is critical of the prospect. “I find it just an unnecessary addition, particularly as there’s no equivalent for the fielding side. I suppose the one thing that might balance that out would be that you’ve picked your five bowlers and a safety valve in the XI, but then you’re allowed to sub out one, bring in a relief pitcher for somebody who is having a bad day, and that would perhaps balance it up on both sides.

“But again, I don’t really see the point. I don’t see the need. Of course, it’s created some brilliant headlines and a lot of discussion about the fact that it’s been used at all. I just don’t see that it is necessary.”

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Featured photo: BBL