England send out high-vis messengers like nobody’s business

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It’s a common criticism of modern cricket that there are too many disruptions; too many conferences and unscheduled drinks breaks. On Sky, David Lloyd has taken to drawing attention to them with an impassioned: “Get on with the gaaaame.”

You can hear the frustration in his voice when he says this and it’s become an irritating catchphrase. Perhaps this is deliberate because at heart it’s not really Lloyd who’s the cause of the irritation.

But there’s more

We knew all of this. We knew stoppages in play were an issue. What we didn’t realise until Saturday was the frequency with which England send messages from dressing room to pitch. These skittering little errands don’t always result in a stoppage. Often it all takes place while the bowler is walking back to its mark, but it’s still annoying.

We go and see a live England match once or twice a year, so it’s not like we were ignorant of the fact that this happened. The difference on Saturday was the frequency. It honestly seemed like one of the team’s high-vis messengers was out there ferrying a helmet, a bottle, some medication or whatever pretty much every other ball.

England station two pitch invaders in camping chairs beneath the balcony, constantly primed for action. When a wicket falls, they both run out carrying bags of bidons. Two balls later, one of them will be out there again, often carrying a single bottle as if the liquid has simply run straight through a bowler’s sieve-like digestive system.

They’re not really there to deliver water, of course. They’re there to deliver something much more valuable – information. The umpires seem to turn something of a blind eye so long as it doesn’t actually slow things down at all. And it doesn’t, for the most part. It is sly and quick, but still infuriating because it gives the impression of a team being micromanaged.

Does it matter?

The regular fall of wickets in that evening session perhaps meant that the interlopers’ tabards were even more highly visible than normal, but that really just highlighted how often this is happening anyway. Maybe we’re assuming too much about what was going on, but it didn’t smack of players being allowed to think for themselves, which was a major criticism of the side at the end of what we’re knowingly going to refer to as the previous era.

We can only guess what is being said – and perhaps the whole problem was exacerbated on this occasion by the captain needing updates about Stuart Broad’s trip to hospital and James Anderson’s lurgy-induced time off the field – but it surely didn’t need to happen as often as it did.


If they really are giving the bowlers advice and new directives are being issued every two or three balls, then there is simply no room for a bowler to test his own theories. This would make the leather-flingers little more than gristly conduits for those who are poring over the data back in the dressing room.


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  1. Perhaps the ICC needs to review the bit of the playing conditions that prevents coaches from tele-communicating with captains. I seem to recall the late lamented Bob Woolmer being berated for trying that out.

    The gloves and water bottles nonsense is rife in county cricket too.

    1. The other day Joe Root signalled up to the dressing room and did a little flap of his arms, like a flying motion, followed by a drinking motion. I was a bit disappointed that I immediately recognised it as a request for some Red Bull.

    2. I draw the line at coaching from beyond the grave. How are today’s up and coming young coaches supposed to get a job if there’s bodies filling all the top positions?

    3. Give Us A Clue signalling is the way forward though, with all other forms of passing information banned with serious consequences. You’d have stump-mic picking up the batsmen trying to guess what was being said.

      It’s a batting instruction, four words, first word, sounds like dog, no cat, no pet, sounds like pet, wet, set, get, GET. Second word , small word, onto, shorter, ON. Third word, you and me, us, hugging, no, you and Peter, between you and Peter, you kissing Peter, you with Peter, with, WITH. Get on with. Last word, short word, an, of, is, to, it, and, back a bit, to, it, IT. Get on with it. Get on with it. Skipper wants us to speed up a bit, Ian. Let’s go to two an over.

    4. It is probably too much for the management to pick cricketers who can think for themselves but they might be surprised at the results.

  2. Most of it is not cricket-related anyway. Stuey Bored needs to be reminded every second over that no matter how things go on the field, he would remain the prettiest bowler in the team. It has been reported that this has led to considerable tension between him and Jimmy as the latter feels he is the one truly deserving of the honour.

    1. Jimmy!? He doesn’t even have the prettiest beard in the team! I bet he spends hours in the dressing room, just staring at Moeen via a mirror and willing his facial hair to grow.

  3. Maybe it’s because they were up North. According to professional Northerner (better than an amateur one)Stuart Maconie, the hi-visibility tabard is one of the two defining features of The North. The other one, if I remember correctly, is Greggs.

    1. There used to be a Greggs in Richmond-on-Thames, south London. It was the very definition of incongruity. If that’s even a word.

    2. Greggs isn’t exactly Gail’s, Paul or Le Pain Quotidien though, is it?

      When the Beatles first came down and played cinema gigs in Romford and Croydon, they didn’t cease to be a Northern phenomenon, did they?

      It’s the Hi-Vis tabard that, to me, is ubiquitous in Britain and speaks of our health and safety obsessed nation as a whole.

    3. When I (briefly) lived in London I spent many of my weekends Greggs-hunting. I found two on the same road once (somewhere near Waterloo, I think?) – what a day out that was.

      Certainly I agree with Ged that the hi-vis tabard seems less of a Northern thing. What could we replace it with as a symbol of Northernness?

    4. For test match cricket grounds, the proper beer snake is for sure a “north of the Watford Gap” phenomenon. The pathetic attempts that pass for beer snakes at Lord’s, The Oval and The Rose Bowl do not really even deserve the beer snake moniker. More like beer worms.

      Same goes for fancy dress (unless you count the blood and vomit coloured monstrous outfits seen in the Lord’s pavilion as fancy dress).

      Not sure about wider aspects of society. Rickets, perhaps?

    5. The previous two times we’d been to a Test, we’d been to Trent Bridge where beer snakes are a rarity. Stewards go round with rubbish bags during the match. At Old Trafford, they don’t and by mid-afternoon there was a stand-length snake just to our left with hundreds of people getting in on the action.

      There’s an interesting study of crowd dynamics in there somewhere. We suspect that people are only really keen to make beer snakes because at some point in the afternoon they find they’ve already got the makings of one. Then, once it becomes a recognised project, the various crowd members come together and form a lairy mob.

      In short, if you don’t want pissed up mobs in your cricket ground, you don’t need additional security, you just need bins.

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