England Cricket Team is under fire over its attempts to send coded messages to captain Eoin Morgan from the dressing-room while the team is fielding.
During the most recent T20 international against South Africa this week, England’s analyst Nathan Leamon was picked up by television cameras holding up large cards on clipboards on the team balcony. The strategy was cleared in advance by match referee Andy Pycroft.
Cards showing messages reading ‘4E’ and ‘2C’ were held up in what was thought to be an attempt to give Morgan more information about possible match-ups between batsmen and bowlers.
It is understood that the signals referred to a suggestion as to who should bowl the next over and a possible field setting. For example, in the signal ‘2C’, the ‘2’ might have been a suggestion that Chris Jordan should bowl, with the ‘C’ referring to a field set for wide yorkers.
It’s not the first time that Leamon has used such methods to pass information from the boundary’s edge. After teaming up with Andy Flower at Multan Sultans for this year’s PSL, he set up a similar system with the on-field captain, Shan Masood.
ECB defended use of coded signals:
The ECB said the signaling system was being trialed and was “intended as a live informational resource that the captain may choose to use or ignore as he wishes”. It added: “They are not commands or instructions and all decision-making takes place on the field.”
Eoin Morgan said: New signal system within spirit of the game:
“It is 100 percent within the spirit of the game,” he told a news conference on Thursday.
“There is nothing untoward about it. It’s about maximizing information we are taking in and measuring it against things, like the coach’s recommendation or the data,” Morgan said.
“There’s always been constant communication, verbal or physical, from the change room to the field to help improve my decisions as captain, to try and correlate the feeling of the flow of the game and what we feel are the right decisions against the data that we’ve already researched coming into the game and, as the game progresses, how that might change.
“It’s something that we’re experimenting with during the game to see if we can improve our performance on the field.”
Michael Vaughan said it was “nonsense”:
Former England skipper Michael Vaughan not happy with the idea, tweeting: “Signals sent from an analyst on a balcony to the captain on the pitch!!!! The world has officially gone nu8s!!!”
“If I were the England captain and the analyst suggested sending messages to me through signals from the dugout he would get short shrift,” he wrote.
“Absolutely no chance would I let that happen. I love innovation and always encourage new ideas and thinking but there is very little an analyst can tell you from the sidelines that you do not already know. I would be a bit worried that Eoin Morgan, a World Cup-winning captain, and Jos Buttler behind the stumps, cannot react instinctively to what is happening on the field.”
The signs showed lottery numbers, Jos Buttler joked:
England vice-captain Jos Buttler joked the signs showed lottery numbers before comparing them to the tactical time-out used in the Indian Premier League.
Buttler told Sky Sports jokingly: “[Leamon] was calling out the EuroMillions numbers – the lads were checking their tickets!
“Seriously, analysis has become such a huge part of the game. I don’t think Eoin needs too much help when he is out there, he is a fantastic captain, but he works closely with Nathan to come up with suggestions and certain match-ups. It was an offering of help. It’s just a little bit of an experiment.
England fast bowler Mark Wood, typically, saw the funny side:
“We’re always looking for ways to improve so maybe this is it – the analyst gets a scorecard like Craig Revel Horwood and we have a new game show,” Wood said.
“I thought they were shoe sizes at one point. Until this morning, I honestly didn’t even know about it. That’s how much notice I took.