In the aftermath of his team’s dramatic super-over loss to the Melbourne Stars at the MCG last Monday night, Sydney Sixers skipper Moises Henriques gave an insight into why he was being hailed as a natural-born leader when some of his players wanted to say “sorry” for the defeat.
Both teams finished their 20 overs tied on 150 runs but the Stars, guided by James Faulkner and his blazing bat, ensured victory when he helped to blast 19 runs off his team’s super-over.
When some of his players attempted to apologise for a rash shot, a misfield or a poor delivery that may otherwise have changed the outcome, Henriques – who’d observed the secrets of good leadership from watching Brad Haddin, Stuart Clark, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, Steve Smith and coach Trevor Bayliss – cut them short.
“I owed them just as much as a sorry,” he said. “Everyone in the team can look back and say ‘maybe if I’d done this I might’ve saved us a run’ but there was no point. I think it’s better we learn and move on to the next game.”
Henriques, a few weeks short of his 28th birthday, was identified as a rare talent when he was only 16 and Cricket NSW paid for a taxi to transport him to and from the SCG to train with the state squad.
While he developed into a Test player last year when he made his debut against India, his traits as a leader for NSW and the Sixers are making a mighty impression.
He guided NSW to its pre-Christmas Sheffield Shield match victory over Queensland, regarded by many as one of the most inspiring in the Blues’ history, because his players needed to overcome the despair of having played the game when Phillip Hughes was struck by a bouncer and passed away two days later just weeks earlier.
The all-rounder took the initiative to change a match that appeared destined to end in a draw into an emotion-charged triumph after fast bowler Sean Abbott captured 6-14 to clinch victory by an innings and 80 runs.
“I don’t think it brought anything out of me,” Henriques said of the way he treated his players before and during the Queensland match. “I just did what I thought was best for the team and best for each and every individual in the team.
“I didn’t want to put pressure on anyone to play [because it was thought some players weren’t mentally up to it after the Hughes tragedy]. I just wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable with their own decision.
“Nic [Maddinson] is one of my closest friends and he opted not to play and, to be fair, Cricket NSW backed that and they made it easy for me to communicate to the players there was absolutely no pressure on them.
“The first three days were affected by rain, Queensland were hurt by a couple of injuries and by the fourth day the game seemed to floating away to a non-event. But when I batted I realised it wasn’t an easy wicket.
“There was a bit of reverse swing, the wicket was starting to play some tricks. James Hopes had just bowled 30-35 overs for Queensland, the venom was out of his bowling for obvious reasons.
“If they had’ve had a few more fit quicks we wouldn’t have reached the total we did – we led by 110 – but I said on the last day I’d be very disappointed if we don’t walk away with a win here.”
It was an inspired call and while history notes his players responded to it Henriques said his leadership – which will be tested again on Sunday night when the Sixers play the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba – was something he was still refining.
“You need to stay on an even keel with your emotions,” he said of captaincy. “When I feel my emotions are starting to go I quickly calm myself down and say ‘OK, let’s slow down and take a few deep breaths’. It’s important not to get too excited about the good times and not too down about the bad.
“We have an eclectic bunch of guys at the Sixers, we have scholars and guys at the other end of the scale. Yet, we all mix well and none are judgmental of the others because we accept each other for who we are. Despite the personalities no one is judgmental, we accept everyone for their individuality and that’s important.
“I’d hope the boys would say I’m fairly relaxed. I don’t smile too much, I’ve never smiled much on the field, but off the field I’m happy, and I want the players to be happy. Trevor Bayliss and I want a happy and enjoyable environment … it’s the culture we want because happy cricketers are usually successful cricketers.”