'Step too far': Cricket rocked by 'coded messages' controversy

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
England analyst Nathan Leamon, pictured here providing coded messages to captain Eoin Morgan.
England analyst Nathan Leamon provided coded messages to captain Eoin Morgan. Image: Sky Sports

Eoin Morgan has defended England’s controversial new ‘coded messages’ tactic after copping backlash from around the cricket world.

Team analyst Nathan Leamon was spotted by television cameras showing letter and number combinations such as '2C' and '4E' on cards during the Twenty20 series between England and South Africa recently.

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England officials said the coded messages were provided in a bid to give Morgan some real-time information to feed into his decisions.

The ECB said the signals were “a live informational resource that the captain may choose to use or ignore as he wishes.

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

The innovation had been cleared by match referee Andy Pycroft, but some have been critical of the backroom intervention.

Most notably former captain Michael Vaughan labelled the move “nonsense” and “a step too far”.

“Signals sent from an analyst on a balcony to the captain on the pitch!!!! The world has officially gone nuts,” Vaughan tweeted.

But Morgan is more than happy to further trial the idea in the first of three ODIs against the Proteas on Friday.

“There's nothing untoward about it, 100 per cent it is in the spirit of the game,” he said on Thursday.

Eoin Morgan and England teammates, pictured here celebrating a wicket against South Africa.
Eoin Morgan and England teammates celebrate a wicket against South Africa. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

“It’s about maximising information that we’re taking in and measuring it against things - coaches’ recommendations, the data, things going on.

“We'll definitely continue with it and give it enough of a sample size to see if it improves our decision making on the field or improves our performance.”

However a number of commentators and fans aren’t particularly happy, believing the tactic is outside the spirit of the game.

Some likened it to the scandal caused when late former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje received messages from coach Bob Woolmer via an earpiece at the 1999 World Cup.

Eoin Morgan fires back at critics

Bristling slightly as he positioned himself against the dissenting voices, Morgan said: “I think captains are different. You get captains that enjoy the title and the power and the accolades that go with it.

“Then you have other captains that continue to be pushed and want to learn for the benefit of the team.

“For me this is a system we want to use to try and help myself and the other leaders within the side almost take a little bit of the emotion and the feel of the decision-making on the field and compare it to the hard data that is continuing to feed information to us on the field.”

After going with the same XI for all three Twenty20 wins, Morgan will lead a different looking side at Newlands.

Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Sam Curran, Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan have all departed, meaning opportunities for others to raise their hands.

Joe Root will resume his role as the anchor of the batting order, while Moeen Ali, Mark Wood and Sam Billings are equally hopeful of making the cut after extended spells carrying the drinks.

with AAP

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