July 8, 2012

Sledging is not necessary

So Paul Nixon, gifted ex-international cricketer and intellectual giant, thinks that sledging is a sign of wanting to win
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So Paul Nixon, gifted ex-international cricketer and intellectual giant, thinks that sledging is a sign of wanting to win? Reading Jon Culley's excellent review of Nixon's autobiography saddened me because it just reinforces the false notion that sledging and winning go hand-in-hand. Too many great cricketers, Nixon not being in that category but a damn fine player all the same, confuse boorish behaviour and bad manners with winning habits. The two behaviours are separate things - good cricket and poor behaviour are often coincidental occupants of the one person, but let's get one thing straight…they operate independent of each other.

Let's just take Australia for example, although this analogy could apply to any of the major teams. The Australian teams of the last 40 years, since the Ian Chappell era allegedly, have generally been thought to have been consistently the worst sledgers in the game. Even if we assume that is true, it's clear from looking at the results that winning cricket and sledging are not symbiotic. Australia were quite powerful in the early 1970s, they were weakened during World Series Cricket, revived again when the WSC players returned to the ranks and then fell in a hole for much of the 1980s until the World Cup victory in India in 1987. Some of the players came through both experiences - losing and winning. Allan Border for example. His personal success straddled both the losing and winning cultures, but I don't think he started winning more games because he became a better sledger. He may have become a better batsman and he may have played in stronger teams but it's an insult to a man of his talent to suggest that winning was largely down to an ability to sledge better.

Back to that Australian team; through the 1990s and till perhaps 2005, they were a pretty powerful unit, made up of wonderful cricketers with immense skill. Their reputation for being the best sledgers, justified or not, just happened to be coincidental. Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, the list goes on and on. Great cricketers full stop. Sledging may or may not have been a part of their game but it's irrelevant to their skill level. Australia won many games during this period because they were more skilled with the bat and the ball than with their mouths. Otherwise, how come many of those players also lost an Ashes series in 2005 and a few of those players have also started tasting defeat more regularly now that the Australian team is not as strong as it used to be? Using Nixon's theory, surely all these players still "wanted to win" as much as ever before. They were just defeated by more skilled players on the day, coinciding perhaps with a downturn in their own form. Nothing to do with sledging and the desire to win.

I've played enough cricket at all levels, from Sunday friendlies to a half-decent standard to have seen sledging in all its manifestations. Funny stuff, vile comments, clever subtleties and plain boorish behaviour. They came from good players, awful players and everything in between. Some wonderful cricketers I played against didn't sledge at all and still wiped the floor with me. There were others who stooped to behaviours that were frankly utterly puerile and they too wiped the floor with me. I was regularly beaten by better cricketers. I was regularly disgusted by 'better' sledgers. The two were mutually exclusive.

In my eyes, people like Paul Nixon just don't deserve the game of cricket, in much the same way that cricket doesn't deserve them. It's naïve and disingenuous to cite the opposition player's comments after the game or the lack of an umpire's report as evidence that his behaviour was decent. In fact, it is quite rare for players to admit to being put off by sledging. And the best sledgers rarely do it within earshot of the umpires. It's down to you and your conscience. You know what you said, you know why you said it and you know whether it was said with malice or humour. If the Nixons of the world pride themselves on a career that was defined by their ability to be remembered as winners because they "played tough cricket" (aka rude, obnoxious, tasteless), they sell themselves short. Nixon was an athletic wicketkeeper and an innovative batsman who never threw in the towel. That's how I remember him. His predilection for abusing other cricketers (call it banter if you like but we all know what he means in the same way that friendly fire or enemy fire still leaves the victim with that same "dead" sensation!), is just a sign of a lack of maturity in my books. It does not speak to his considerable talent in much the same way that my distaste for sledging has very little to do with my lack of cricketing talent. I would not have been a better cricketer who won more games of cricket if I had become more skilful at abusing opposition players.

I think of players like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. No one can argue with their greatness, yet I can't recall hearing their names being bandied around the circuit as being awful sledgers. I look at young Clint McKay who is the best of the current bowlers in the ODI series for Australia. He is competitive, he is trying his guts out for Australia and no one can fault his wholehearted commitment. Yet, watching him for many seasons, and knowing him from when he was at the Cricket Academy a few years ago, it is clear that he is a hell of a decent chap who can play international cricket without having to behave like an idiot. His ever-improving bowling has everything to do with hard work and nothing whatsoever to do with improving his "banter skills". Cricketers like him deserve every success and the game is richer for their involvement. Good on him.

If cricket had more administrators like Alan Fordham, the game would be a more civil place where the standards expected are more about your own conscience rather than an official report by the umpires. If the world operated on the sort of principles that Nixon eulogises, where winning any contest in life is about attempting to destabilise another person, it would indeed be a sad world. Perhaps he should just adopt his own book title and Keep Quiet. He wouldn't have won any more games in his life but he might have won a bit more respect.

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bobb on December 19, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    It always amuses me that when the subject of sledging comes up there are a plethora of comments from the sub continent; they also sledge heavily; the fact that cheeses them off is that they are not very good at it, hence the whining and whinging.

    South Africa are similar in attitude; several years ago Their captain Smith was "carrying on" about some comments made in Perth; I think the truth is they were ex pat SA people.

    If these so claimed "oh so clean" sides stopped their hippocracy we would all be better served.

    If the sledging is so boring, why listen to it.

  • milpand on July 15, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    Are Tennis players better human beings than Footballers? Or does the presence of spectators so close to action play any role? What if the banter on field is broadcast live without any beeps?

  • Meety on July 15, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    @Geemacaitch - the same reason why S Waugh instructed his players NOT to sledge Lara.

  • Geemacaitch on July 13, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    Meety, I agree there has to be boundaries. I ackowledged in my first response that it can't go too far and captains and umpires need to step in if it does. I was reminided by a bloke who I used to play against and who is now on the brink of umpiring internationally that the first time we played one another (in a lower grade game nearly 20 years ago when I was 17) he sledged the hell out of me. I vaguely recall that there was plenty of chirp but nothing in particular. I ended up getting some runs and he said that his experienced captain stepped in and told him to lay off on the sledging because it was having no effect. On many occasions I thought that being sledged really helped me concentrate.

  • Meety on July 13, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    @Geemacaitch - "...The strong player can ignore it." Exactly right, however - "...The real issue is that the sledging doesn't matter..." - that I don't agree with, there has to be boundaries.

  • Geemacaitch on July 12, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    I played Sydney Grade Cricket for nearly 20 years. I played about 100 games of first grade and came up against many first class and test players. Almost everyone I played with or against sledged to some degree. The real issue is that the sledging doesn't matter. The strong player can ignore it. It is only borne out of frustration or to make the target think about something (anything) other than what he should be thinking about. I've sledged bolwers to goad them into bowling short at me because the last thing that I wanted to do was to play forward on a green wicket or when it was swinging. Sledging a batsman can include reminding a him about the crucial state of the game. If it goes too far the captains and the umpires neeed to step. Otherwise there is absolutely no problem with it.

  • Anonymous on July 12, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Sledging is a part and parcel of any sports. In cricket, there are stump mics and the bowler and batsmen are always in the camera focus. In other sports, like football, many people miss the sledging part as one player is not in constant focus. But in any sports, the player must be mentally strong enough, to disregard any comments made in the field and concentrate on the job in hand. But the spirit of the game must be held high. I still remember the Zidane RED card in World Cup final.

  • Dr. Ahad Khan on July 12, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    Craig, I did not say that the Bowlers & Fielders should ' SILENT '. They surely need to be talking with each other / jeering each one up / applauding a good ball bowled / cracking jokes / appealing for a catch or LBW / having a friendly word with the Umpire / having a friendly word with the Batsman / applauding an excellent stroke / having a little dig with each other / showing exuberance & excitement / encouraging the Bowler, etc etc. There is a lot they can do, without making unpleasant gestures / remarks at the Batsmen. A bowler can be a 'Smiling Assassin ', because he has the ultimate weapon in his hand - he does not have to play dirty. Yes, I have had friendly chats with the Fielders & even with most Bowlers who have Sportsmanship inherent in them - Minus the Sportsmanship, 'It ain't Cricket 'Craig. Dr. Ahad Khan

  • Ram on July 12, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    HI Michael..very well written indeed. Having played cricket at multiple levels, I can vouch this is NOT limited to one country (Australia) or only international cricket. It happens in college and club cricket as well. You are correct, sledging does not make anyone a better cricketer, skills do. Since Australia started winning and dominating the past deacde and half, their 'talking' came into focus..Also, for less talented folks, it would be far easier to ape someone's talking ability.. rather, bowl like McGrath, Warne.. bat like Viv, Ponting etc.,

  • Craig on July 12, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    Dr. Ahad Khan. Do you expect bowlers and fielders alike to be silent throughout an entire days play? Provided things are not personal, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a chat to the batsmen. Some batsmen chat back, others don't. Normally it's the ones who don't chat back (guessing you are one of these), that might cop a little more "run rate getting out of reach for this chap here lads, wicket coming!" And "sledging" such as that is absolutely fine. We are not children. If you cannot handle comments such as those, I'm afraid it is you, who has the problem.

  • Bobb on December 19, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    It always amuses me that when the subject of sledging comes up there are a plethora of comments from the sub continent; they also sledge heavily; the fact that cheeses them off is that they are not very good at it, hence the whining and whinging.

    South Africa are similar in attitude; several years ago Their captain Smith was "carrying on" about some comments made in Perth; I think the truth is they were ex pat SA people.

    If these so claimed "oh so clean" sides stopped their hippocracy we would all be better served.

    If the sledging is so boring, why listen to it.

  • milpand on July 15, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    Are Tennis players better human beings than Footballers? Or does the presence of spectators so close to action play any role? What if the banter on field is broadcast live without any beeps?

  • Meety on July 15, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    @Geemacaitch - the same reason why S Waugh instructed his players NOT to sledge Lara.

  • Geemacaitch on July 13, 2012, 5:16 GMT

    Meety, I agree there has to be boundaries. I ackowledged in my first response that it can't go too far and captains and umpires need to step in if it does. I was reminided by a bloke who I used to play against and who is now on the brink of umpiring internationally that the first time we played one another (in a lower grade game nearly 20 years ago when I was 17) he sledged the hell out of me. I vaguely recall that there was plenty of chirp but nothing in particular. I ended up getting some runs and he said that his experienced captain stepped in and told him to lay off on the sledging because it was having no effect. On many occasions I thought that being sledged really helped me concentrate.

  • Meety on July 13, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    @Geemacaitch - "...The strong player can ignore it." Exactly right, however - "...The real issue is that the sledging doesn't matter..." - that I don't agree with, there has to be boundaries.

  • Geemacaitch on July 12, 2012, 8:55 GMT

    I played Sydney Grade Cricket for nearly 20 years. I played about 100 games of first grade and came up against many first class and test players. Almost everyone I played with or against sledged to some degree. The real issue is that the sledging doesn't matter. The strong player can ignore it. It is only borne out of frustration or to make the target think about something (anything) other than what he should be thinking about. I've sledged bolwers to goad them into bowling short at me because the last thing that I wanted to do was to play forward on a green wicket or when it was swinging. Sledging a batsman can include reminding a him about the crucial state of the game. If it goes too far the captains and the umpires neeed to step. Otherwise there is absolutely no problem with it.

  • Anonymous on July 12, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Sledging is a part and parcel of any sports. In cricket, there are stump mics and the bowler and batsmen are always in the camera focus. In other sports, like football, many people miss the sledging part as one player is not in constant focus. But in any sports, the player must be mentally strong enough, to disregard any comments made in the field and concentrate on the job in hand. But the spirit of the game must be held high. I still remember the Zidane RED card in World Cup final.

  • Dr. Ahad Khan on July 12, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    Craig, I did not say that the Bowlers & Fielders should ' SILENT '. They surely need to be talking with each other / jeering each one up / applauding a good ball bowled / cracking jokes / appealing for a catch or LBW / having a friendly word with the Umpire / having a friendly word with the Batsman / applauding an excellent stroke / having a little dig with each other / showing exuberance & excitement / encouraging the Bowler, etc etc. There is a lot they can do, without making unpleasant gestures / remarks at the Batsmen. A bowler can be a 'Smiling Assassin ', because he has the ultimate weapon in his hand - he does not have to play dirty. Yes, I have had friendly chats with the Fielders & even with most Bowlers who have Sportsmanship inherent in them - Minus the Sportsmanship, 'It ain't Cricket 'Craig. Dr. Ahad Khan

  • Ram on July 12, 2012, 3:04 GMT

    HI Michael..very well written indeed. Having played cricket at multiple levels, I can vouch this is NOT limited to one country (Australia) or only international cricket. It happens in college and club cricket as well. You are correct, sledging does not make anyone a better cricketer, skills do. Since Australia started winning and dominating the past deacde and half, their 'talking' came into focus..Also, for less talented folks, it would be far easier to ape someone's talking ability.. rather, bowl like McGrath, Warne.. bat like Viv, Ponting etc.,

  • Craig on July 12, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    Dr. Ahad Khan. Do you expect bowlers and fielders alike to be silent throughout an entire days play? Provided things are not personal, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a chat to the batsmen. Some batsmen chat back, others don't. Normally it's the ones who don't chat back (guessing you are one of these), that might cop a little more "run rate getting out of reach for this chap here lads, wicket coming!" And "sledging" such as that is absolutely fine. We are not children. If you cannot handle comments such as those, I'm afraid it is you, who has the problem.

  • Anonymous on July 12, 2012, 2:24 GMT

    @MJeh - I made a comment where I felt that it was a myth that the WIndies didn't sledge @John Holder. Did you see that one go thru? It was along the lines of my favourite anti-hero - Ambrose certainly would verbal a batsmen, & that the hugely populated slip cordons of the WIndies in the 80s were very "chirpy". Also it is fairly well documented that Sir Viv would sledge from the batting crease!

  • Meety on July 12, 2012, 2:20 GMT

    @Dr. Ahad Khan - sorry if my view doesn't gel with you. When I played on & off over the last 20yrs, I did a lot of bowling. I would grit my teeth when hit for 4, occasionally if it was a great shot, I'd even mutter some sort of compliment (again thru gritted teeth). But when a batsmen edges thru the slips, or drags the ball down for a french cut, I'd say something like (FFSake), turn around & head back to my crease. I could never care less what a players background is, I'd just be momentarily frustrated that the effort put into bowling a good (or not so good) ball didn't quite yield a result. I often employed a "stare", whether that was any good or not I dunno, but in some ways - it worse or more "rude" than saying a word, but it's not a sledge.

  • Dr. talha on July 11, 2012, 10:20 GMT

    Sledging adds to the excitement of the game. Donald vs Atherton will be remembered for ever. Still enjoy watching it.

  • Stewart on July 11, 2012, 8:24 GMT

    Two people have mentioned about the West Indies of the 70's and 80's no sledging, this is absolute fantasy land I am afraid to say. There was Malcolm Marshall (legendary fast bowler) saying to David Boon 'David are you going to get out or am I coming around the wicket to kill you' Viv Richards sledged MANY a bowler, there are clips on YouTube of Lenny Pascoe and Viv having a chat. And there was a time when Viv offered to meet Wasim behind the pavilion, Wasim tells a great story about it! So to say they never sledged is not correct.

  • Michael Jeh on July 11, 2012, 6:37 GMT

    Meety, I think your attitude is eminently sensible and commonsense. Likewise IndianInnerEdge, similar sentiments. Totally agree.

  • Dr. Ahad Khan on July 11, 2012, 5:44 GMT

    Good try, ' Meety ' ! No, it is not the domain of the Bowler or the Fielders to make any sort of comments, no matter how badly or how well a Batsman plays - I have played Sydney Grade Cricket for many years - Bowlers do not like it, if you hit a 4 or a 6, particularly when the Bowler thinks that it was a very good delivery he just sent - without making remarks at my Personal Life ( which you feel is the only Sledging you disapprove of ! ? ), I have been subjected to Offensive Hand gestures / Unpleasant eye-balling / aggressive Body language, etc. No, ' Meety ', it is not his Domain to express his unhappiness at me - he just needs to make a U-turn & go back to his Bowling mark & counter-attack me with an even better ball - the Ball in his hand is the only weapon that he should be using - not his Tongue, nor his Body Language behoves Good Sportsmanship - yes, using anything other than the Ball in his hand, 'Ain't Cricket '.

  • BSimon on July 11, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    Michael, your comment about the game needing more Fordhams is quite disturbing. The man feels he has the right to tell a player his 'actions' have been noted on his permanent record and are not acceptable in the game. All this without interviewing any players, no match report from the umpires regarding an incident and inconclusive stump mic noises. He didn't even have the courtesy to speak to Nixon, or advise him there would be an investigation of allegations. I for one think the game needs less of this knee jerk trial and execution by back room bureaucrats all spouting about utopian codes of conduct.

  • BSimon on July 11, 2012, 3:44 GMT

    Is sledging necessary to win in any sport? No, but it sure makes it more interesting! Learning how to divert an opponents attention from the task at hand can be as well honed a skill as being profficient at reverse swing and no less important to winning some matches. Of course what constitutes sledging is as subjective as what constittutes the perfect bowling action. I was once accused of sledging because I stopped mid pitch and (without any words spoken) laughed at a batsmans forward defence. Infuriated, he threw his arms in the air and demanded to know what was funny. I shrugged my shoulders and went back to my mark, exaggeratedly shaking my head. The miscued slog next ball produced the result I was after and I was mystified by the non striker bleating to the umpire that my 'sledging' was unfair and unsportsmanlike. There was history between the batsman and myself and I used his dislike of me to push his buttons. There's degrees to everything, so whose definition do we use?

  • pkcricfan101 on July 11, 2012, 3:38 GMT

    Yes it is true that sledging is not necessary. On the other hand it is a part of the game and has been since the beginning of the game. It might not show how badly you want to win, but does certainly show aggression and actually enhances the depth of the game by letting players mess with the opposition's mind or breaking their concentration. Cricket is a game of nerves and sledging is just another way of challenging cricketers. Although i agree that the sledging should be limited to on the field topics and not get personal such as talking about race, religion, or family, etc... But controlled sledging should definitely not be banned or else whats next...banning bouncers cause they hurt the batsmen's feelings too?

  • Meety on July 11, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    Michael, good article, well written & you clearly put forward a good case. I have more of a middle of the road view on "sledging". I have no problems with loud conversations in the slips when the fielders are "analysing" a batsmen with stuff like "oh, he's looking dusty outside off stump, or doesn't look like he knows where off stump is". I do have a problem with "sledging" that involves ANY aspect of a players personal life off the field. I don't classify "sledging" as when a bowler swears, (keeping personal angles out), when a batsmen has edged thru the slips or played a poor shot, as long as the bowler straight away turns around & walks back to the top of his mark. There are a lot of grey areas though. What if a bowler extends his follow thru right up to a bout a foot from the batsmen in the crease, but doesn't say a word?

  • IndianInnerEdge on July 11, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    Gr8 write as always, Fox, but I do feel that when two teams go all out, the passions are bound to spill over. I feel that if you wanted to 'chat' to the opposition, it should be questioning a player's cricketing ability alone without reference to certain body parts, bodily functions, the act of reproduction or any other, and if it has an element of humour in it, all the more better. Tasteless boorish behaviour, one upmanship, exagerated celebrations take away the shine and dignity of the noble game. A player can be fiercely competitive withour resorting to these cheap antics a la Anil Kumble, Inzy-ul-haq, Gary Kristen, jonty, Riche richardson, Hooper etc....always let their cricketing skills do the talking. I think imagery is more important in todays 20/20 tequila hit fast world, players-esp the young feel it is imp to project a macho/tough man image, pity as the need to be respected and loved as a gr8 bloke is buried under the desperation to win!

  • youngkeepersdad on July 11, 2012, 0:49 GMT

    It is a pity, but it's hard not to believe that Paul Nixon let himself down over all those years. He was not a bad player, but it was so hard to warm to him with his constant yap from behind the stumps. It is far better to focus on the game itself, but I tend to think that the messages that the kids are getting is far removed from that. Indeed, from what I've seen yap can get you noticed as a kid with ambitions in the game, which perhaps doesn't say much for some adults' attitudes that such things can be deemed worthy of praise above considered thought.

  • John Holder on July 10, 2012, 22:29 GMT

    Michael, your article is excellent I have known Paul Nixon for many years and have admired his professionalism and drive to become as good a player as he could be but am disppointed that he thinks that sledging is vital to success. It is boorish behaviour. There is often inane comments made on the field which I found quite pathetic. I cannot understand why some players find it necassary to be rude to opponents. In addition to Tendulkar and Dravid whom you mentioned, bowlers like Holding, Roberts, Garner, Marshall, Ambrose and Walsh never found it necessary to abuse batsmen. They simply let the ball do the talking and in the final analysis a player is rated on what he achieves on the field, not on how many opponents he abused.

  • Stewart on July 10, 2012, 9:10 GMT

    I think 'mongrel' can mean many things! For example, you can defend positively when batting with postive footwork, that in itself can be more conerning to a bowler than a huge swish of a shot for 4 or 6. Mongrel could just mean being more ruthless on any mistakes that the opposition make.

  • Michael Jeh on July 10, 2012, 8:40 GMT

    Thanks for the comments. I think Mickey Arthur has got it slightly wrong (although I may be misinterpreting his sentiments). He talks about the Aussie team being bullied, needing to show more mongrel etc. Maybe the inner sanctum of the dressing room understands what he means but to the outsider, to a young kid perhaps, this sort of message just comes across totally wrong. They don't need more mongrel or anything like that. Just bat better, bowl better, field better. It's a skill thing with a bit of luck thrown in (winning toss etc). England haven't bullied anybody at all. They've just played better cricket. In the same way that Aust didn't bully India last summer - they played better cricket. This rubbish about needing to play with more fire and more mongrel hides a more obvious truth. Not good enough on this tour. Simple as that. Full stop.

  • Saad Aftab on July 10, 2012, 5:49 GMT

    I feel that a big part of the whole perception of dominant Aussie teams of the past being big on sledging came from the fact that they were just downright arrogant. No disputing the fact that Matt Hayden was probably as intimidating as a modern day opener gets, Shane Warne was no doubt the best leggie ever and GD McGrath was acclaimed for his metronomic accuracy, but when you become that good, sometimes things spill over into arrogance and adding to how when you come from a culture of many decades that seems to promote such onfield demeanour, it doesnt take alot to chirp away something tasty to the opposition. In a nutshell, sledging comes from arrogance which comes from being too good.

  • youngkeepersdad on July 9, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    cont. I always thought Taibu was another good role model (apart from Sanga). Now I see he's found a religious vocation. Zimbabwe cricket keeps losing good people.

  • youngkeepersdad on July 9, 2012, 22:49 GMT

    A few years ago, I was looking for a quality poster of a keeper in action. The option chosen included Kumar Sangakkara. Now, I think it has been said that the Lankans sledged just about better than anyone, and maybe they did. However, Sanga has shown since that poster-choosing decision that he is indeed a fine role-model. Talk involves more than sledging. It's ability that matters, coupled with considered thought processes. I'm not against sledging. In true Oz tradition there are times when I would recommend it. Yet it is said, quite correctly, that silence is golden. And often it's easier on the ears.

  • Dr Sam Verma on July 9, 2012, 22:00 GMT

    Good article Michael. I learnt cricket from my dad in India as a child. Growing up, he instructed me about the following important points when it comes to cricket: a) cricket is about universal brotherhood. You are supposed to break down all barriers thru the sport. b) Never ever display bad behavior on the field or off it. The sport is about fair-play. c) always applaud an opponent's good performance, even at the expense of ur own team. I rarely ever see any of the above on the field. To my mind, the worst behavior always comes from the Aussies. They seem to think that sledging or "mental deconstruction" is part of the game. IT IS NOT! If you abuse your opponent on the field, its an indication of how desperate you are, not how good you are. The best cricket team to have played the game in the past 40 years was the WI team. They dominated the sport from the late 70s until the mid 1990s. They never sledged. They didn't need to. Sledgers will always have a blot next to their names.

  • sk12 on July 9, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    Sleding in most cases arises not out of the need to intimidate the opposition, but out of frustration of things not going your way. At the "heat of the moment" as they say. Nothing wrong in that, as long as it doesnt get personal. And a small correction - Oz were at their best till 2008 (till the end of their 16 match winning streak) and not 2005. I guess you considered the away loss to Eng in a closely fought series without Mcgrath as the end of an era. Just fyi, they lost 2-1 against India too in 2001.

  • BRIAN on July 9, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    I have often said, "Would those players who are sometimes offensive with their sledging be brave enough to do it at the back of the pavilion without their team-mates with them?"

  • Stewart on July 9, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    I think there is a place for sledging within cricket, however, I do not like the sanitizing of it by calling it 'mental disintegration' THAT is utter rubbish.

    The reason I think it should be used, is that bowlers are testing how robust a batsmens skills are using his own skills (be that pace, swing, seam, spin, relentless pressue etc.) I also like the addition of testing a players mental resolve, some people are so pumped up that a word here or there tips them over the edge and they lose their equilibrium and lose their wickets, some are young players who get rattled easily. I remember playing as a youngster against a team who had 4 quick bowlers (one was a guy who had been asked to play a sunday league match for Gloucester, but turned it down as he was at a party on sunday night, and wasn't sure he would be fit to play) and I edged a 4, the slips started chuntering 'oh god, the bowlers going to lose it, I hope this boy can duck? That last ball wasn't even full pace.....' etc.

  • Praxis on July 9, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    Nice article Michael. I too never understood what does sledging has to do with playing 'tough' cricket.

  • Iain on July 9, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    Good article, playing cricket you do come across players who attempt to frighten/intimidate/scare you. The most important thing that i have found is just to ignore them. if you ignore them, they give up, in much the same way that bullies do. @imran; the response was 'smart' and mcgrath definitely should have been expecting a response, and no he should not have exploded quite so drammatically, but his wife had cancer. give him a break.

  • danoz on July 9, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    i think constant talk keeps the fielding teams on thier toes you can drift away if thier is no talk,whilst thier is the spirit of cricket i believe its over emphasised,i believe you congradulate the opposition when they score 50's and 100's and shake hands when the games over and to players who play well say well played.

    rather than be abusive(which can happen),i rather commentate on the game,say the batsmen has big swing and misses the ball,as the fielding team you accuse the batsmen of not caring about his wicket or the game and thiers a wicket just around the corner if he wants to play shots like that.

    if you set a field and stop the batsmen from scoring repeatedly,you remind the batsmen he has to find a new shot if he wants to score

    and if the batsmen gets bogged down you remind the batsmen his wasting overs.

    playing mind games with the batsmen

    all this talk can sometimes spill over into personal abusive sledging but it should stay on the field and end when the games over.

  • Arshad Khan on July 9, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    There are a few other gentlemen in Australian set-up such as Dirk Nannes, Baily, Cullum Fergusson and Cameron White etc, who do their talking through their ball/ bat.

  • Anand B on July 9, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    Cricket is a noble endeavor. The very fact that it was called a gentleman's game should give an idea that sledging was not a part of the original script. Sledging is a concept that came into being of late to intimidate the opposition or to break concentration of the batsmen (please note sledging is targeted more towards the batsmen, The bowler has 10 teammates for support while the batsman has only the nonstriker). The umpire's role is limited in this mad rush. Sledging may be called "mind games" but it is certainly not warranted. A good player will not allow sledging to affect his performance on the field. To put it in simple words - If a dog barks at you do you bark back at the dog or go on with your task?

  • Dr. Ahad Khan on July 9, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    Sledgers are a blot on the good name of Cricket - In short, all I can say about Sledging is this - It ain't Cricket. Dr. Ahad Khan

  • Imran on July 9, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Excellent n thanks Michael for echoing my thoughts.. Subtleties n humor to lighten up mood is a different thing but downright abusing is absolutely boorish n should be totally banned from the game.. And you said it right, 'its a matter of ur conscience'. Remember, young kids n budding cricketers r watching such behaviour and they emulate such things pretty easily. Talking of Australians and their brand of mentally disintegrating the opponents, Sarwan's quip 'Ask ur wife!!' was a smart reply to the query.. But Pigeon's subsequent behavior did gave an insight into how much they could take back..

  • Bhagyesh on July 9, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    Michael, totally agree with you.. the more I read it the more sense it makes to me .. Young cricketers are thought how to sledge and these guys are not setting a fine example. I would love to watch something like Cummins making Tendulkar dance to his bowling instead of him sledging in a bad taste.

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  • Bhagyesh on July 9, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    Michael, totally agree with you.. the more I read it the more sense it makes to me .. Young cricketers are thought how to sledge and these guys are not setting a fine example. I would love to watch something like Cummins making Tendulkar dance to his bowling instead of him sledging in a bad taste.

  • Imran on July 9, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Excellent n thanks Michael for echoing my thoughts.. Subtleties n humor to lighten up mood is a different thing but downright abusing is absolutely boorish n should be totally banned from the game.. And you said it right, 'its a matter of ur conscience'. Remember, young kids n budding cricketers r watching such behaviour and they emulate such things pretty easily. Talking of Australians and their brand of mentally disintegrating the opponents, Sarwan's quip 'Ask ur wife!!' was a smart reply to the query.. But Pigeon's subsequent behavior did gave an insight into how much they could take back..

  • Dr. Ahad Khan on July 9, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    Sledgers are a blot on the good name of Cricket - In short, all I can say about Sledging is this - It ain't Cricket. Dr. Ahad Khan

  • Anand B on July 9, 2012, 7:36 GMT

    Cricket is a noble endeavor. The very fact that it was called a gentleman's game should give an idea that sledging was not a part of the original script. Sledging is a concept that came into being of late to intimidate the opposition or to break concentration of the batsmen (please note sledging is targeted more towards the batsmen, The bowler has 10 teammates for support while the batsman has only the nonstriker). The umpire's role is limited in this mad rush. Sledging may be called "mind games" but it is certainly not warranted. A good player will not allow sledging to affect his performance on the field. To put it in simple words - If a dog barks at you do you bark back at the dog or go on with your task?

  • Arshad Khan on July 9, 2012, 7:55 GMT

    There are a few other gentlemen in Australian set-up such as Dirk Nannes, Baily, Cullum Fergusson and Cameron White etc, who do their talking through their ball/ bat.

  • danoz on July 9, 2012, 8:29 GMT

    i think constant talk keeps the fielding teams on thier toes you can drift away if thier is no talk,whilst thier is the spirit of cricket i believe its over emphasised,i believe you congradulate the opposition when they score 50's and 100's and shake hands when the games over and to players who play well say well played.

    rather than be abusive(which can happen),i rather commentate on the game,say the batsmen has big swing and misses the ball,as the fielding team you accuse the batsmen of not caring about his wicket or the game and thiers a wicket just around the corner if he wants to play shots like that.

    if you set a field and stop the batsmen from scoring repeatedly,you remind the batsmen he has to find a new shot if he wants to score

    and if the batsmen gets bogged down you remind the batsmen his wasting overs.

    playing mind games with the batsmen

    all this talk can sometimes spill over into personal abusive sledging but it should stay on the field and end when the games over.

  • Iain on July 9, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    Good article, playing cricket you do come across players who attempt to frighten/intimidate/scare you. The most important thing that i have found is just to ignore them. if you ignore them, they give up, in much the same way that bullies do. @imran; the response was 'smart' and mcgrath definitely should have been expecting a response, and no he should not have exploded quite so drammatically, but his wife had cancer. give him a break.

  • Praxis on July 9, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    Nice article Michael. I too never understood what does sledging has to do with playing 'tough' cricket.

  • Stewart on July 9, 2012, 10:23 GMT

    I think there is a place for sledging within cricket, however, I do not like the sanitizing of it by calling it 'mental disintegration' THAT is utter rubbish.

    The reason I think it should be used, is that bowlers are testing how robust a batsmens skills are using his own skills (be that pace, swing, seam, spin, relentless pressue etc.) I also like the addition of testing a players mental resolve, some people are so pumped up that a word here or there tips them over the edge and they lose their equilibrium and lose their wickets, some are young players who get rattled easily. I remember playing as a youngster against a team who had 4 quick bowlers (one was a guy who had been asked to play a sunday league match for Gloucester, but turned it down as he was at a party on sunday night, and wasn't sure he would be fit to play) and I edged a 4, the slips started chuntering 'oh god, the bowlers going to lose it, I hope this boy can duck? That last ball wasn't even full pace.....' etc.

  • BRIAN on July 9, 2012, 10:28 GMT

    I have often said, "Would those players who are sometimes offensive with their sledging be brave enough to do it at the back of the pavilion without their team-mates with them?"