Match Analysis

Why Carlos Brathwaite and Samit Patel retired out tactically in the same game

Match-ups, quick runners and rain create "unique set of circumstances" in T20 Blast fixture

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Carlos Brathwaite celebrates a wicket  •  Getty Images

Carlos Brathwaite celebrates a wicket  •  Getty Images

Tactical retirements in T20 cricket are like London buses: you wait forever for one, then several arrive in quick succession. A batter had never retired out in the first 19 seasons of English domestic T20 cricket, but Carlos Brathwaite and Samit Patel both did so in the same rain-reduced Vitality Blast fixture between Birmingham Bears and Nottinghamshire on Sunday.
When R Ashwin retired himself out playing for Rajasthan Royals against Lucknow Super Giants in IPL 2022, it quickly became apparent that his decision would be a seismic moment in T20 strategy. Analysts and coaches have long debated the merits and drawbacks of tactical retirements, but a high-profile player making a high-profile call has helped to destigmatise the move.
Brathwaite and Patel's retirements were only the fifth and sixth such dismissals in T20 history, according to ESPNcricinfo's extensive database, and none of the previous four had happened in the same match. With the game shortened to eight overs a side, wickets were significantly devalued and both teams were willing to adapt accordingly.
Brathwaite, the Bears' captain, was working as a pundit on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time:Out show when Ashwin opted to retire and declared his support for the move at the time. "How often have we thought, 'yeah, he's batted five balls too much, couldn't get it away, couldn't get out, and as a result we've lost a bit of momentum'?" he said. "I think it was gutsy from Rajasthan. Moving forward, it's something we'll probably see a lot more of… it's something that will become a part of the game."
On Sunday, Brathwaite was 17 not out off 11 balls - and had hit the final ball of the seventh over for six - when he saw that Calvin Harrison, Notts' legspinner, had been given the eighth and final over of a shortened game. Harrison's first over, bowled exclusively to Brathwaite, had cost only six runs and he had beaten him outside off stump three times.
Brathwaite was clearly aware of his own struggles against legspin: since the start of 2020, he has faced 98 balls from legspinners in T20 cricket, from which he has scored 67 runs and been dismissed eight times. He walked off and called for Sam Hain - who has averaged 57.50 against legspin with a strike rate of 135.29 in the same period - to replace him.
"Carlos isn't a big sweeper and I think he felt that someone else might have attacked it a bit better," Peter Moores, Notts' head coach, told ESPNcricinfo. "It's a pretty selfless decision by a captain because everyone wants to be the man to bang it out the park but he'd faced the over before and found it tough - Calvin bowled a really good over at him - and I think he decided to give someone else a crack at it.
"We could have bowled someone else if we wanted to - there's nothing in place to stop that. It doesn't happen very often. We know Carlos is a fantastic striker of a cricket ball so it's quite a big decision but I think most of these decisions people make on instinct, and he clearly felt that he would give somebody else a go."
The final over cost 18 runs, though Hain (batting at No.6) did not face a ball: Chris Benjamin was dismissed off the second ball after hitting the first for four before Alex Davies, in at No. 7, hit a six, two twos and a four to finish on 14 not out off four balls.
"The rule is there and so I think it's fair to use it. People make comments about this, that and the other but for me, when Carlos walked off, there's no problem with that at all."
Peter Moores, Nottinghamshire's coach
In the run chase, Brathwaite conceded only eight runs from the penultimate over to leave Notts needing 15 off the last, an equation which became six to win off the final ball. Craig Miles bowled a high full toss which Patel plinked into the leg side for only a single and the Bears started to celebrate, only to see that it had been given as a no-ball for height.
That left three to win off one with Tom Moores back on strike (no-balls are worth two runs in English domestic cricket rather than the usual one) and Patel, at the non-striker's end, walked off to be replaced by Harrison, a quicker runner. He charged through for one but Moores could only dig Miles' yorker out to extra cover, sealing a one-run win for the Bears.
"Calvin was still in the dressing room because he wasn't next in and with six off the last ball there was no relevance," Peter Moores explained, "but with the no-ball, Alex Hales walked outside on the balcony and looked across at me and Dan [Christian, Notts' captain] and we shouted up and indicated for Calvin.
"Samit realised what was going on and we swapped it around. Calvin's got a few years on Samit and we know that an extra yard is quite a bit when it comes to a run-out. It seemed to make sense at the time. It's a quirk in the rules but it made sense at the time."
Patel's retirement was reminiscent of another incident earlier this year which saw Jordan Silk retire hurt in similar circumstances. Silk had been sent out to target a short leg-side boundary in the final stages of Sydney Sixers' BBL Challenger final game against Adelaide Strikers having earlier pulled a hamstring in the field.
When he found himself off strike ahead of the final ball with two runs required, he was replaced by a fully-fit batter in Jay Lenton; while Silk was officially retired hurt, due to his injury, the situation was effectively the same as the one at Edgbaston. Incidentally, Christian was in the batting team's dugout on both occasions.
"It's one of those quirks that really you could only see being used in the shorter formats because otherwise wickets are too valuable," Moores said. "It's got to be a unique set of circumstances and a shortened game like that has more chance of throwing it up than a full T20 game. I don't think we're going to see lots of it because I don't think the circumstances are going to happen very often in a way that feels like there's going to be a competitive advantage.
"The rule is there and so I think it's fair to use it. People make comments about this, that and the other but for me, when Carlos walked off, there's no problem with that at all. I don't think it will happen very often. If it's going to happen, it'll be in those really short games because otherwise the value of people that are in is too high."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98