The Sydney Sixers have defended the decision not to bowl star spinner Stephen O’Keefe in their last-ball Big Bash League loss to the Adelaide Strikers, revealing it was his call.
Despite another disappointing performance by their top order, the Sixers pushed the Strikers to the last ball before ultimately falling six runs short of their target of 168 at the SCG on Thursday.
The Sixers made several curious decisions, omitting former Test keeper Peter Nevill and leaving O’Keefe out of their attack during the Strikers’ innings.
Opener Alex Carey feasted on some poor Sixers bowling, hitting 83 off 59 in a game-changing knock.
Stand-in skipper Johan Botha said left-arm spinner O’Keefe didn’t feel comfortable bowling to southpaw batsman Carey, who batted for all 20 overs, and chose to keep himself on ice.
“I kept running past him throughout the innings and with the left-hander in, he was a little worried with that,” Botha said.
“I thought he could have squeezed one or two in from the end with the bigger side to the left.
“But in the heat of the moment we thought the off-spinners were a better option.
“That’s what we went with and we bowled pretty well, I know the last two balls went for 10.”
Captain Moises Henriques was a game-day withdrawal because of illness but is expected to be available for Monday’s clash with the Perth Scorchers at the WACA.
Botha argued the allrounder’s absence upset the team’s balance and caused them to overhaul their side and ultimately led to Nevill being rested.
Jordan Silk, who top scored with 50, was injected into the batting order while Sam Billings was moved to wicketkeeper and paceman Ben Dwarshuis replaced Nevill.
Botha said that had Dwarshuis not been included, he would have only had five bowling options at his disposal.
This is despite the fact they only used five bowlers in the end and O’Keefe went unused.
“I think it was just for balance. When Moises was the captain for the two games he only had five bowlers and it becomes hard if one of the guys goes, you’ve got no one to turn to,” Botha said.
“I think we wanted that extra bowling option. It sort of worked tonight, we didn’t have to go to SOK (O’Keefe). And if we wanted to, we could have.”