One of the characteristics of performance analysis is that it has the potential to inform strategic and tactical decision making.
I read with interest an observation made by Mahela Jayawardene after the fifth ODI against England this week. He made the observation in the context of the run out of Jos Buttler.
Mahela is quoted in a Cricinfo article:
We analysed our game after Lord’s. They took 22 twos in the last 12 overs. Ravi Bopara and him (Jos Buttler) ran riot. And most of the time they were taking starts that are not legal by the written laws. We just wanted to make sure we got a fair chance.
Law 42.15 of the game of Cricket states: “The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run out the non-striker.”
However, the rules under which international cricket takes place (ICC playing conditions) differ from the Laws of the game. The ICC’s playing regulation 42.11 (which replaces Law 42.15) states: “The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over. If the bowler fails in an attempt to run out the non-striker, the umpire shall call and signal dead ball as soon as possible.”
The Sri Lankan analysis of run scoring in the fourth ODI v England highlighted an important performance issue in the closing overs of a closely contested game.
The data give opportunities to consider how to respond if the situation arises again.
In the 44th over of game 5, Sachithra Senanayake removed the bails midway through his bowling action and appealed for the dismissal of Jos Buttler. He was given out by the umpires after they had given the Sri Lankan captain the opportunity to withdraw the appeal.
The moral dilemma here, if there is one, is the concept of ‘the Spirit of the Game’.
In the Preamble to the Laws of the Game it states “Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game”. The Preamble adds “Any action which is seen to abuse this spirit causes injury to the game itself. The major responsibility for ensuring the spirit of fair play rests with the captains”.
When we analyse performance, and offer our data to coaches, captains and players, do we have any professional responsibility for how the data are used? Do we act as custodians of a spirit too?