It's what you expect to see - and might have seen - on a football field. There's no note stashed away in the pocket, but generally a message, a protest, a statement, scrawled on a white t-shirt under the player's team jersey. 'Take that!' some say. Others make political statements. Some show their support for a cause or a player, or their opposition to a cause or a player or even an official or an organisation. Occasionally, someone will pull out a flag or a banner.
The context is obviously Denesh Ramdin's rather rude, and provocative, jibe at Viv Richards after reaching his century on Sunday in the Edgbaston Test. (Read:Ramdin takes jibe at Viv Richards after ton)
Yes, I have seen some cricketers in the past gesticulate in the direction of the commentary/press box if they have been criticised by someone sitting there. Off-hand, I recall Nasser Hussain going slightly crazy after scoring a hundred against India in the NatWest final back in 2002. Kevin Pietersen's done it a couple of times too, as has Yuvraj Singh. Mostly read-my-lips stuff, usually not much more.
Returning to Ramdin. Three years back, he hit his first, only and last Test hundred before the sterling effort in Edgbaston. Obviously, he hasn't been carrying the note in his pocket since then. That must have happened more recently, after May 30 in fact, when Sir Viv called him a "lost boy" and much else. That was during the Trent Bridge Test. The hotel staff in Nottingham must have been asked for a sheet of paper. A pen must have been procured. And the message 'YEA VIV TALK NAH' prepared (the stringing together of which must hassle the somewhat more articulate Trinidadian of Indian origin, Sir VS Naipaul, in case he caught the message).
Interestingly, Ramdin has made it a habit to carry notes in his pocket whenever he thinks a century is around the corner. It's only happened twice, so that's not too often. Fortunately. Back when he scored that 166 against England in 2009, Ramdin took out a note thanking team-mate Ramnaresh Sarwan as well as former Trinidad players David Williams and Ian Bishop.
That was all right. Not necessary, but all right. If anything, it suggested that here is a nice boy who acknowledges the contribution of others to his success.
Back to the present, and Richards has since retorted, Ramdin has apologised, and he will most certainly have to repeat his apologies at length (journalists are not likely to let him forget it for a while after all), but all that's besides the point. What is the point is the reaction in the first place.
Saying he got carried away is fine, but I don't think it works in this case. After all, when you react more than a week after something has been said, it's not because you got 'carried away'.
I don't think youngsters, or current cricketers, need to show unnecessary respect towards former cricketers-turned-experts (though in a contest between Ramdin and Richards, this might not hold true).
At the same time, it's cool for former cricketers to give their opinion when it's asked for, even if it is a bit harsh or a bit too critical at times. That's why former cricketers become experts on television or in newspapers - to use their expertise and speak honestly about what they see.
If a youngster - like Ramdin - doesn't like what Richards, or anyone else, has to say about him, he has press conferences and other media platforms to reply. He doesn't need to accept whatever is said about him, but a Test match arena might not necessarily be the right place to make his statement.
In any case, the century itself was statement enough. I don't think folding a scrap of paper, putting it in the pocket, taking it out in the evening, putting it back in the next morning, and repeating this sequence endlessly till he got a chance to flash it is a particularly sensible thing to do.
Now it's done, though. The horse has bolted. But maybe someone, ideally not Richards himself, should sit the young man down and give him a little talking to. Explain to him that if he fancies himself as a writer, he could maintain a tour diary or a blog or some such.
After all, Ramdin might be the best wicketkeeper in the West Indies, but a Test average of just above 22 does suggest that he has been "out of sorts" of late. Richards's statement that Ramdin "was a huge prospect", but has "deteriorated in such a big way" wasn't too far off the mark then. And while making statements is good, and should be made, they need to be backed up by facts (or, in cricket, statistics) to make a dent. Sadly, despite his effort in Edgbaston, Ramdin might not emerge as the wronged guy in this story.