IPL 2021: "Anyone can be the captain in this way" - Virender Sehwag criticizes KKR's 'code word' strategy

KKR's '54' code caught on camera. (PC: Hotstar)
KKR's '54' code caught on camera. (PC: Hotstar)
Rudransh Khurana

Virender Sehwag has expressed his displeasure at the controversial 'code word' strategy used by the Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday. Sehwag argued that if analysts in the dugout are allowed to dictate the game, then anyone can take up captaincy on the field.

Kolkata Knight Riders analyst Nathan Leamon held a cryptic placard reading '54' during the middle overs of Punjab Kings' batting. On-air commentators and fans alike made far-fetched conjectures about what the code meant, but no one knew for sure.

Speaking to Cricbuzz, Virender Sehwag said there was nothing wrong with receiving such help from the backroom staff. However, he added that this could undermine the role of a captain's instincts.

"We have only seen such code language in the army. I think '54' was the name of their plan which could be about bowling a certain bowler at a particular time. I think that's a little help that management and coaches want to give to the captain from the dugout. There's nothing to frown upon in this, but if they are dictating [the game] from the outside then in this way, anyone can be the captain right? There's no role left for his (Eoin Morgan) popular instinctive power in the game, the power with which he won the World Cup," said Virender Sehwag.

Virender Sehwag made his own speculations as well. He guessed that the code might be conveying some bowling changes or reminding Eoin Morgan of some pre-prepared strategy.

"I think one should definitely get help from outside but the captain himself has some instincts about which type of bowler to use when. I am not saying don't take the help from outside because sometimes even the 25th player can give a good suggestion. But this suggestion should be only something which helps the captain and he thinks 'Right, I didn't think about it in this way'. Also, these things can help if he has forgotten something and the code reminds him of that then there's no issue," added Virender Sehwag.

Nathan Leamon also works as an analyst for the England men's national team. He drew attention for the first time during England's limited-overs tour of South Africa in 2020, when he used certain combinations of letters and numbers to send out information to Eoin Morgan, drawing criticism from pundits and former players.

No analyst can tell you the strategies MS Dhoni makes on the field: Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag
Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag further cited the example of 'instinctive' captains MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma to explain his point. He remarked that the spontaneous tactics that Dhoni made against Andre Russell in their recent clash can't be pre-empted by an analyst sitting in the dugout.

"Many captains like MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma are instinctive. They change their strategy according to the situation on the ground. If I talk about MS here, then when Andre Russell was batting, there was no fine-leg or deep square-leg, just 2 players on the leg-side and the rest were on the off-side. No analyst can tell you this; this is MS Dhoni's immediate thinking. No doubt, help from the dugout is good, but there are certain instances when the captain's instincts are more important," concluded Virender Sehwag.

KKR won the game against PBKS by 5 wickets with Eoin Morgan receiving the Player of the Match award for his unbeaten 47 and 3 catches.

Edited by Parimal

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