Cricket: Coded Signs off the Pitch!

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

In the current cricket series against South Africa, a controversy has broken out regarding the use by England of coded signs displayed from the pavillion to its players, especially the captain, Eoin Morgan, on the pitch.

They are thought to provide information, based on historical data, on how South African batsmen might be expected to play against certain England bowlers.

Although this practice has been cleared by the match umpire, the former England cricket captain, Michael Vaughan, has tweeted:

Signals sent from an analyst from a balcony to the captain on the pitch …. the world has officially gone nuts!!!”

And added:

I like info but this is a step too far.”

In tennis, for example, such advice from off court coaches is not allowed, although, in association football, it is common practice for coaches/managers to shout advice to players from the dugouts.

The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), the Sport’s National Governing Body, however, seems to approve of the practice, regarding it as a:

live informational resource that the captain may choose to use or ignore as he wishes.”

Adding:

They are not commands or instructions and all decision-making takes place on the field.”

But, is this practice a form of cheating and against fair play principles?

Certainly, according to some commentators, it is and is just not cricket!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw121@gmail.com’