Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne December 28, 2006

Much ado about not very much

Cricinfo staff

The master plans Click here for a larger version © Getty Images
The row over the England bowling plans which were leaked to the media rumbles on, with former England captain Ian Botham getting rather hot under the collar about it all.

The plans were prepared by Mark Garaway, England's analyst, and they detailed supposed batting weaknesses of all the Australians. They were sent to ABC radio and a copy of the piece of paper also appeared in several local newspapers.

Jim Maxwell, a commentator with ABC, told the BBC: "It was an attachment to an email which seemed to specify the plans for all the Australian batsmen. It was a lovely bit of information about all the Australia batsmen and their weaknesses and what England needed to do to get them out. Unfortunately for England it arrived during a mammoth partnership - so the plans were not working very well.

"I don't think it was particularly mischievous to read it out, I can't see how any harm has been done. If this gets out into the open it is not earth-shattering news is it? As we said at the time, whatever the tactics they were weren't working." He explained that the list had been emailed by someone who said he had found it "lying around the place."

But Botham was furious. "You say found," he fumed on Sky Sports. "It was a stolen piece of paper out of the dressing room and should not be stolen. Just who was in the dressing room and what else has been stolen?"

But another former England captain, Mike Gatting, was less bothered. "It is nice to have plans in case you need to refresh your memory, but bowlers know what they have to do. They go through it in their minds. It should not affect them at all. All the time you are trying to correct faults. You know your weaknesses and play to your strengths. It's all in the brain. People are making too much of it."

Geoff Boycott agreed. "If you need a list to get Shane Warne out something is wrong with your bowlers." Nasser Hussain said the biggest concern was not why the plans were leaked but why they had not been implemented. "It has left England's bowlers open to even more criticism because clearly in this series these plans have not been carried out," Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail. "In 2005 ... England had four fast bowlers who put those plans into operation 90 percent of the time. Now it is closer to 50 or 60 percent."

The ECB, however, was taking the matter seriously. "There were several copies of the team bowling plans which are pinned up in the dressing room during the Test match and a copy of this plan has ended up in the possession of the media," said Andrew Walpole, an England spokesman. "We are continuing our investigations into how it happened. We don't know at this stage whether the document was taken from the dressing room or from another part of the ground. We're talking to the ICC security manager and we're also talking to Cricket Australia, who are as disappointed about this as we are."