January 8, 2008

Let's ban sledging

Cricket shouldn't just be trying to ban racism, it should ban sledging
164



Ponting is a sledger too, and he and Harbhajan have been needling each other on and off for nearly seven years © Getty Images
 

It's a drama unfolding on the other side of the world, and I wasn't watching the match. But something about the Harbhajan Singh affair doesn't feel right.

In fact, three things don't. First, it takes two to tangle. Andrew Symonds is a well-known sledger, as is Harbhajan. Mike Procter is asking us to believe that one party was severely at fault while the other was not at fault at all, and that doesn't ring true.

The second problem is that Procter listened to eight hours of evidence and then swallowed Ricky Ponting's view of things whole. Ponting is a sledger too, and he and Harbhajan have been needling each other on and off for nearly seven years. Ponting has often got out cheaply to Harbhajan: if anyone were to call him Bhajji's bunny, it would be harsh, and cheap, but fair.

The third problem is the amount that is being asked of Procter. The guy's an ex-cricketer, not a high-court judge. His job as a match referee requires him to decide whether Harbhajan called Symonds a monkey, and if so, what he meant by it. Procter had to look at the remark through the lens of racism, but he might equally well have peered through the lens of speciesism. Bringing monkeys into a sportsmen's spat is demeaning to monkeys.

It does seem likely that the remark was intended as a racial insult, if it was ever made: the India fans who chanted it at Symonds a few months ago clearly meant it that way. But that was recorded on video, whereas this time, there is doubt over whether the offending remark was made. The eight hours of evidence are a vivid demonstration of that doubt - this is a vastly magnified version of those moments when an umpire takes so long to decide about a thin edge or an lbw that you just know he should keep his finger down. And if there was doubt, then Harbhajan should have been given the benefit of it.

Cricketers say a lot of stupid things to each other. It has been known for one to address another as a Pommie bastard, or Pommie wanker. Is that racism? There isn't (usually) a skin-colour dimension to it, but it's still racial. And pathetic. If the pot calls the kettle black, is it being racist too?

You can argue endlessly over whether one remark or another has a racist element. What is needed is a big, simple, magnanimous response. Beneath it all lies a deeper malaise: sledging itself. Cricket shouldn't just be trying to ban racism. It should ban sledging.

This is a front on which every team is guilty. Australia have often led the way, but Sri Lanka have had their moments, as did India especially under Sourav Ganguly, and so have South Africa and even those nice, educated boys from New Zealand. England are certainly not innocent bystanders: one reason it was a relief to see Matt Prior dropped this week is that he was particularly potty-mouthed - and when he was criticised for it, the England coach, Peter Moores, was dumb enough to argue that the answer was to switch off the stump mike. Not that Duncan Fletcher was any better: he makes it clear in his recent book that Chris Read was ditched as keeper because he didn't join in Paul Collingwood's doomed attempt to out-sledge Shane Warne in his final Test.

Sledging has been rife for years, and it stinks. It's a sad, feeble way to try and take a wicket. Bowlers should use the ball, and their talent: that's what they're for. Batsmen who answer in kind, like Kevin Pietersen, who allegedly yelled "Fetch it!" at Symonds last year to give the impression that he was a specialist fielder, are little better.

It's sometimes said that fans wouldn't enjoy watching a game conducted largely in silence. But the outpouring of emotion on all sides this week - including an impressive number of two-eyed Australia fans - shows that the cricket-loving public are deeply disgruntled as it is. And silence is no problem at all. Curtly Ambrose didn't sledge, and people loved watching him.

 
 
Sledging has been rife for years, and it stinks. It's a sad, feeble way to try and take a wicket. Bowlers should use the ball, and their talent: that's what they're for. Batsmen who answer in kind, like Kevin Pietersen, who allegedly yelled "Fetch it!" at Symonds last year to give the impression that he was a specialist fielder, are little better.
 

Talking is the commentators' job. And the fans'. And the captains' - as long as they are addressing their own side, or the umpires, or the media, and not saying anything as crass as Ponting's claim that this row was "one little incident". If it was so little, why did he report it to the umpires, and set the ball rolling towards turning the incident into a diplomatic one?

Twelve years ago, a great Australian cricketer was asked for his views on sledging. "If a fellow attempted it under me," the old fellow replied, "I would have given him one warning and, if he repeated it, I would have made sure he was not selected again." That was Sir Don Bradman, speaking at the age of 87. Bradman wasn't always right, but he certainly was on that occasion. Sledging demeans everyone who practises it. It sours the game.

After five years as England captain, and more Test victories than any of his predecessors, Michael Vaughan has the authority to take that sort of stand. After five years as Australia's captain, and 16 victories in a row, Ponting has it even more so. So if the ICC won't ban sledging, Ponting and Vaughan should agree a pledge and ask the other national captains, Test and one-day, to sign up to it. It should be short and simple enough to be expressed in the modern sportsman's preferred form of off-field verbal communication: a text message.

Their fellow players might give them a few funny looks, or even a verbal onslaught. But cricketers know, deep down, that sledging is wrong. You can tell by the fact that they use euphemisms to denote it, like factory workers making sure they put on rubber gloves to handle the toxins they include in everyday products. Steve Waugh called it "mental disintegration"; others prefer "a bit of banter" or "a bit of chirp". Rare is the player who will call a sledge a sledge while he is still playing. But they know it's not cricket. If somebody seizes this moment and takes a stand, the whole cricket world, sooner or later, will thank them.

Tim de Lisle is the author of Young Wisden, reviewed here, and a former editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. His website is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JohnnyP on January 9, 2008, 8:11 GMT

    I'm one of the 2-eyed Aussies that Tom de Lisle refers to. I agree 100% with all of Tom's reflections and I fully support a total ban on sldeging. It's ugly, graceless and unsporting.

  • Krishna_Sydney on January 9, 2008, 8:06 GMT

    I totally agree Tim. This is one Aussie invention ( I am an Indian-Austrlaian) we can do without. I still remember Gavaskar's plea at Lords before the MCC a few years ago, asking the cricketers who indulge in it to desist. A classic speech.

    The Aussies wrote into the record books - they won the match but they lost the test (of sportsmanship and character)! Maybe in future we shd have the anthem singing at the end of the match rather than the beginning..I for one, cant imagine the Aussies looking straight and singing " Advance Australia Fair", at the end of the Sydney 'test'.

    I am glad to see sensible lead writers like yourself leading the way with change - change is overdue. Thanks!

    Krish

  • ALFREE on January 9, 2008, 7:34 GMT

    I couldn't agree more for sledging to be banned as it is now taken out of context, particularly when there are different national teams with varying cultures involved. However, it should remain with the other sports as sledging can be also a motivational factor alternatively for the recieving teams. I guess cricket will never be the same without a bit of sledging; whatever that is.

  • stallin on January 9, 2008, 7:09 GMT

    I don't agree with that, sledging is a part of the game and shouldn't be banned. Of course,racial comments shouldn't be tolerated.Very often sledging comes with a great humour and make things more intense in the field between the teams.It also helps to get rid of the boredom while playing test matches and brings a smile on their faces.It also helps us to understand the cultures of different nations. Let us keep the tradition alive, sledging is far better than freehits@20overpowerplays in a different perspective, the latter have done a great damage to the game. What's freehit in cricket,ridiculous commercialisation.

  • kiwihiker on January 9, 2008, 7:08 GMT

    Tim, agree with you 100%. Cricketers should speak through their actions - the Australians are phenomonally capable, and shouldn't need recourse to verbal abuse to prove/ensure their greatness.

    Some have commented that this is an aspect of male Antipodean culture, and that many great cricketers would be lost from teams if they could not sledge. Well, lets turf 'em.

    I would hate to see this devolve to the level of those bleedin' soccer players that trip over and have a cry when they get tackled, and then bounce up as soon as the whistle is blown. Not something Australian or NZ national teams do. But I'll continue to support and watch 'em if they play hard and lose, as long as they play honest. Same with the cricket.

  • KillerCrows on January 9, 2008, 7:06 GMT

    "what happens on the field stays on the field". This is gererally true, however racism should NEVER be tolerated! Not one bit.

    POMS is about a race, so are convicts (Australia), but the question is "Is it demeaning/hurtful to those that it is intended to". If so, then it is a racist comment, regardless of how insignificant others may feel. This is where you are spot on and all sledging should be stopped.

    As for the fact that no camera or umpire picked it up, that is just a let out clause. "If a tree falls down in the woods and no one (camera) is around to hear it - does it make a sound?"

  • Ananthanag on January 9, 2008, 7:05 GMT

    This is superb article. Yes, this is high time to ban sledging along with racism. I just can't understand how ICC is allowing this sledging. For instance, how can a bowler abuse the batsmen if the later gets boundaries or sixes in his bowling. Don't say that is Australian way or some thing. When you are playing in the international level you need to have some common sense and moral values. If the players don't have it, the respective boards should train them. If sledging continues, it will cause some unnecessary tensions and issues and at the end, the sport will be spoiled.

  • srikanths on January 9, 2008, 6:25 GMT

    Yes, completely agree that we shoudl ban sledging

    There is no banter ,chirp in all the other non contact sports like Tennis, Table tennis,squash,Volleyball etc. No one buys this argument that sledging adds to the attraction of the game . This was an aussie creation .If we let the slightest opportunity , scope, there is bound to be retaliation. Reaction is never equal and opposite, it is always worse. We will all end up debating punishments on reaction without really addressing and preventing action

  • arindam2812 on January 9, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    Funny how the proponents of sledging mostly happen to be Aussies. Folks, why is it so difficult for you to realize that, just because you are used to it, all others should too? Give me one reason why the world should play cricket as you do. If you are indeed world champs, shut up and play, and show the world you can win with your talents and not your potty mouths.

  • Sir-Collingwood on January 9, 2008, 6:05 GMT

    Little Boy Ricky Ponting, agree to ban sledging? It'll happen...if pigs started sprouting wings and started flying.

  • JohnnyP on January 9, 2008, 8:11 GMT

    I'm one of the 2-eyed Aussies that Tom de Lisle refers to. I agree 100% with all of Tom's reflections and I fully support a total ban on sldeging. It's ugly, graceless and unsporting.

  • Krishna_Sydney on January 9, 2008, 8:06 GMT

    I totally agree Tim. This is one Aussie invention ( I am an Indian-Austrlaian) we can do without. I still remember Gavaskar's plea at Lords before the MCC a few years ago, asking the cricketers who indulge in it to desist. A classic speech.

    The Aussies wrote into the record books - they won the match but they lost the test (of sportsmanship and character)! Maybe in future we shd have the anthem singing at the end of the match rather than the beginning..I for one, cant imagine the Aussies looking straight and singing " Advance Australia Fair", at the end of the Sydney 'test'.

    I am glad to see sensible lead writers like yourself leading the way with change - change is overdue. Thanks!

    Krish

  • ALFREE on January 9, 2008, 7:34 GMT

    I couldn't agree more for sledging to be banned as it is now taken out of context, particularly when there are different national teams with varying cultures involved. However, it should remain with the other sports as sledging can be also a motivational factor alternatively for the recieving teams. I guess cricket will never be the same without a bit of sledging; whatever that is.

  • stallin on January 9, 2008, 7:09 GMT

    I don't agree with that, sledging is a part of the game and shouldn't be banned. Of course,racial comments shouldn't be tolerated.Very often sledging comes with a great humour and make things more intense in the field between the teams.It also helps to get rid of the boredom while playing test matches and brings a smile on their faces.It also helps us to understand the cultures of different nations. Let us keep the tradition alive, sledging is far better than freehits@20overpowerplays in a different perspective, the latter have done a great damage to the game. What's freehit in cricket,ridiculous commercialisation.

  • kiwihiker on January 9, 2008, 7:08 GMT

    Tim, agree with you 100%. Cricketers should speak through their actions - the Australians are phenomonally capable, and shouldn't need recourse to verbal abuse to prove/ensure their greatness.

    Some have commented that this is an aspect of male Antipodean culture, and that many great cricketers would be lost from teams if they could not sledge. Well, lets turf 'em.

    I would hate to see this devolve to the level of those bleedin' soccer players that trip over and have a cry when they get tackled, and then bounce up as soon as the whistle is blown. Not something Australian or NZ national teams do. But I'll continue to support and watch 'em if they play hard and lose, as long as they play honest. Same with the cricket.

  • KillerCrows on January 9, 2008, 7:06 GMT

    "what happens on the field stays on the field". This is gererally true, however racism should NEVER be tolerated! Not one bit.

    POMS is about a race, so are convicts (Australia), but the question is "Is it demeaning/hurtful to those that it is intended to". If so, then it is a racist comment, regardless of how insignificant others may feel. This is where you are spot on and all sledging should be stopped.

    As for the fact that no camera or umpire picked it up, that is just a let out clause. "If a tree falls down in the woods and no one (camera) is around to hear it - does it make a sound?"

  • Ananthanag on January 9, 2008, 7:05 GMT

    This is superb article. Yes, this is high time to ban sledging along with racism. I just can't understand how ICC is allowing this sledging. For instance, how can a bowler abuse the batsmen if the later gets boundaries or sixes in his bowling. Don't say that is Australian way or some thing. When you are playing in the international level you need to have some common sense and moral values. If the players don't have it, the respective boards should train them. If sledging continues, it will cause some unnecessary tensions and issues and at the end, the sport will be spoiled.

  • srikanths on January 9, 2008, 6:25 GMT

    Yes, completely agree that we shoudl ban sledging

    There is no banter ,chirp in all the other non contact sports like Tennis, Table tennis,squash,Volleyball etc. No one buys this argument that sledging adds to the attraction of the game . This was an aussie creation .If we let the slightest opportunity , scope, there is bound to be retaliation. Reaction is never equal and opposite, it is always worse. We will all end up debating punishments on reaction without really addressing and preventing action

  • arindam2812 on January 9, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    Funny how the proponents of sledging mostly happen to be Aussies. Folks, why is it so difficult for you to realize that, just because you are used to it, all others should too? Give me one reason why the world should play cricket as you do. If you are indeed world champs, shut up and play, and show the world you can win with your talents and not your potty mouths.

  • Sir-Collingwood on January 9, 2008, 6:05 GMT

    Little Boy Ricky Ponting, agree to ban sledging? It'll happen...if pigs started sprouting wings and started flying.

  • TomB on January 9, 2008, 5:50 GMT

    In all this where do you draw the line? We see how hard the current line is to police to everyones satisfaction. Will there no longer be any communication between opposing sides? That's a good way to further increase the cultural divide, which is the major cause of all this fuss anyway.In terms of the hearing the facts we know are few and are that the Aussies claim that Harbhajan called Symonds a monkey in the one day series in India, and it was dealt with behind the scenes. Now three Aussies claim that the term was repeated in the Sydney test, and Harbhajan denies this. The specifics of Tendulkars testimony are less clear, did he simply not hear the taunt? or does he claim that he knows it wasn't said? In any case Proctors verdict was based on extensive deliberation and discussions with the witnesses, not just these dry claims that the general public is aware of. The Aussies push the limits with sledging, but Sharma's mismatched gloves shows the limits are pushed by the Indians too

  • stanley007 on January 9, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    If sledging is nasty or personal, it has no place in the game. If comments are witty and entertaining then it is part of the spectacle of top level cricket. Until players get the message, they should be fined for unpleasant remarks, as recorded by microphones and played back later.

  • adityaranjank on January 9, 2008, 5:38 GMT

    Nice Article! At least someone in ICC officials should give an eye to this. Couldn't be a better time to ban sledging.

  • Necron99 on January 9, 2008, 5:21 GMT

    Ban sledging? Great lets do that. First step is to define it! Umpires have enough trouble judging whether the crease has been stepped over let alone some line in the verbal sand. Will there be a bipartisan working committee set up to handle sledge appeals? One member from each culture to ensure that anything said can be placed in it's proper cultural context? Hmm hang on some of these countries have many separate cultures, that could be a problem. What about reverse sling? Monkeys are worshipped in some parts of India so surely an Indian can't be sledging if he calls someone a Monkey, term of veverance that is.... Ahh what if Dravid told his team to stop monkeying around while Roy was at bat? Ponting telling his bowlers to put some curry in it? Mentioning somesones weight problem, is that cruel or a kindly concern over their health? What load of PC rubbish. Stump mikes off and let them have at it. These are highly paid professional sportsmen playing a game driven by national rivalry.

  • srajan_rsvl on January 9, 2008, 5:16 GMT

    Sledging is bad, but complaining about sledging or anything else like the umpiring is only done by losing teams. Losers complain, winners do not. Winning teams privately thank their lucky stars if they benefited from umpiring decisions, and they ignore cases where decisions which went against them.

    Bhajji is at least partly to blame - umpires do not mete out punishment without hearing from both sides. Come on guys, we're masters at complaining about real or perceived racism against us, but now that one of our own is being punished for racist remarks, we're indignant. That to me is hypocrisy on our part.

    Let's win on the field. Then sledging won't be a concern, neither will be bad umpiring.

  • DarthFatBoy on January 9, 2008, 5:10 GMT

    Hear, hear Tim. The most intelligent thing said on this whole issue. And I agree it is time to outlaw sledging. The players demean themslves when the indulge in it. I like the suggestion of Michael Vaughan and Ricky Ponting instigating something to out law sledging. Perhaps it is time the players themselves did something about it. The ICC seem to be dragging their feet ont he issue. At least they are trying to eliminate racsism, but that doesn't get to the heart of the issue, namely sledging. Outlaw that and racsim will disappear too.

  • TamilIndian on January 9, 2008, 5:05 GMT

    it is disheartening to see not all fans are against sledging. I'm seeing comments like a little sledging is good etc. One guy is saying Indians sledged in India. These people are missing the point that Tim is trying to make. He is not pointing the finger at any one individual/team. He also says there can never a line be drawn. This is a pure and simple ban on sledging. Excellent article. I would like to ban and also like to put sensitive mics 'always on' inside the stumps. So that disputes are easily resolved. Also the whole team must be penalised for example 10 runs added to the opposing team etc.

  • Tim.O on January 9, 2008, 5:02 GMT

    Continued ....European soccer is battling the issue. Look at UEFA (Europe's football body) who have come down heavily on recalcitrant players and forced some clubs to play in empty stadia as a result of racist crowd behaviour. (The exact same 'monkey' insinuation as has been directed at Andrew Symonds.) South African sport, particularly their rugby, is still finding its feet on racial matters and off field race issues have contributed to the disaster that is now Zimbabwean cricket. The AFL here in Australia was marred by racial abuse until players of Aboriginal heritage drew a line in the sand. Cricket must not shirk its own responsibility. If it is to act responsibly then cricket, it must not crudely sweep up issues of racism to be dropped in the bucket and diluted with all other onfield complaints. Any other verbal confrontations can be dealt with by the captains themselves - "leave it on the pitch". But racial abuse, whether by crowd or player, must attract a harsh response.

  • Tim.O on January 9, 2008, 5:02 GMT

    I just don't agree with the article. To explain: As pointed out, verbal aggression has long been part of the game. (Tension and conflict is an inevitable part of 1st class cricket). Throughout that time, someone occasionally steps across the line and it would (and should) be sorted out by the players on the field or later in private agreement. The game then goes on through the years, constantly and subtly adjusting what is and is not deemed acceptable. The same process of judging behavioural standards goes on in any element of society.

    HOWEVER, racism is an entirely different beast. It is bigger than this series, bigger than the 2 countries involved and larger than cricket as a whole. The ICC realises this, the one-day series in India highlighted this, and certain individual accept (Ricky Ponting included) accept this. The issue must be seen in this global context. The last few years has seen a huge effort to eradicate racism from sport globally. Continued next post...

  • oldmanofsea on January 9, 2008, 4:38 GMT

    The only problem that is almost unique to cricket is that it is played over such a long time. Sledging is there in every sports. Unsportsman behavior is there in every sports. In soccer and basketball (two other games that I follow), you have players falling down without any contact to gain fouls and penalties. But these sports are played over a short duration of 2 or 3 hours. Sure the players will be upset with the others after the game. But the game is over quickly and by the time they meet again, everything is calmed down. Test cricket on the other hand is played over for 5 days. When it is played at a high intensity level, and for such a long time, emotions are bound to boil over. It is very easy for us to sit in our comfortable homes and say that sledging is bad and not walking is cheating. It is time for us to realize that it is no longer just a game. As more and more money comes in, it becomes less and less of a game.

  • BigCrompy on January 9, 2008, 4:33 GMT

    This is a fabulous article Tim, and appeals to me tremendously.

    No-one can genuinely accuse Harbhajan of making a racist remark, because no-one can accuse Harbhajan of being a racist. We should listen to those who know him best prior to casting aspertions as to how he would really treat those of different ethnicities to his own. No, what Harbhajan has done is make a PROVOCATIVE remark, the one designed to wind up his opponent as effectively and succinctly as possible. Needless to say, it has worked. Now Australia are bleating that they don't like it.

    This is ENTIRELY the reason this article is so valid. Now, I for one can't possibly imagine what 'term of endearment' Andrew Symonds gave to his friend Harbhajan following the latter's harmless pat on Brett Lee's posterior...but quite why THAT should be acceptable and Harbhajan's retort not, is not within the remit of a match referee (specifically one terrified by Malcolm Speed) to decide. Either anything goes - or nothing does.

  • keecha on January 9, 2008, 4:26 GMT

    Is it possible to provide a copy of this artcle to each of the cricketer in general and those who played last week at SCG in particular? Very well said Tim. Sledging to cricket is what copying to an examination hall, doping to a olymic dash or terrorism to a Democracy is. it is just one cheap, unnacceptable method adopted by the incapables and the impotents. To conclude, I seriously doubt if Australia can stand a chance against quality teams if sledging was banned.

  • harry2000 on January 9, 2008, 2:54 GMT

    i totally agree for to ban sledging in the cricket games. They should be played out in the sporting manner.It is just like an exam, when everyone concentrate to get better score than others.No-one is allowed to disturb someone's concentration. Lets just test the talents of the players.Ban on sledging has to be put together,so that future of cricket can be better and also relationship between the people of cricketing nations.

  • mlmakin on January 9, 2008, 2:22 GMT

    Excellent points in the article, even if it may be expressing a vain hope. I've lived in the USA for the last couple of decades, and have only followed international cricket rather casually over that period until last year, when my two older sons (11 and 8) started playing seriously with our state's only youth academy. Sledging isn't anything new, of course, but I was absolutely astonished when my eleven-year-old, playing for the academy's fourteen-and-under team in a tournament last Septemeber, remarked bitterly on the amount of sledging he'd heard at the crease from the opposition's star fourteen-year-old, who was keeping wicket while my son batted. That little story surely suggests that something rather unpleasant has happened to the game in recent years. Maybe Ponting,Harbhajan Singh, Symonds, and every other international star should be strongly "encouraged" to think about the tens of millions of youngsters following their every move...

  • dickos on January 9, 2008, 2:21 GMT

    I wholeheartedly agree with Tim de Lisle's comment.If the players are good enough to be selected to play for their country then why do they see a need to behave in a manner that detracts from them and from the great game.The idea of a blanket ban on any sledging or derogatory comments "NO EXCEPTIONS" is the way to go.After all,isn't everybody playing the same game?

  • Toby_McCricket on January 9, 2008, 2:19 GMT

    Tim de Lisle's article is naive in the extreme - exactly what is he classing as sledging?? Banter between players onfield is normal and makes the game enjoyable. When does banter become sledging?? Obviously,if it is racially, religiously etc motivated, then it ceases to be banter (Codes of conduct are in place to cover this), but to class all all onfield communications as sledging as Tim appears to do is quite silly.

    Tim needs to appreciate that a player's mental approach is a key component of of what makes an elite cricketer/athlete - hence mind games are part and parcel of top level sport - whether it be cricket or any other game. Hence, banter aimed at playing these mind-games are and should continue to be part of elite sport - cricket included. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to get out more.

  • AndyO on January 9, 2008, 2:03 GMT

    Fantastic article Tim and I agree sledging should be labelled for what it is and eradicated (at all levels of the game) or at the very least reduced to something less crude or derogatory. There are several international players who don't stoop to such levels and they are setting a good example that the others can (hopefully) follow.

    As an Aussie supporter I am embarrassed by some of their current antics, but Indian supporters claiming that Harbhajan was only retaliating are being a little precious - there weren't many angels on the field at the SCG. As a cricket supporter I was quite disgusted to watch the same player run across to the members stand and perform a couple of 'monkey rolls' after getting Ponting out. I was more disgusted the Aussies didn't acknowledge the incredible captains knock by Kumble on the final day - a noble and heroic effort.

  • Bisht on January 9, 2008, 1:12 GMT

    Well i can suggest one practical way of stop all sledging by putting microphones around ground.

  • Bisht on January 9, 2008, 1:00 GMT

    I totally agree with Tim. If you are the best cricket palyer or team then do you really need sledging to win? if you are, then you are not the best ?

    Use your cricketing abililties to sledge opponent, not you mouth

  • ChuckingMuraliMakesMeSick on January 9, 2008, 0:20 GMT

    Regardless of your views on sledging, it's like Pandora's Box: it's open and irreversible. Why? It's not a game anymore, it's a business, indeed it's a career for thousands worldwide. The stakes are higher, the pressure is on.If you are a player, results are the currency you trade in: runs, wickets, catches. As a team group these translate into wins/losses/draws/ties. All of the above affect the team make-up. Ergo if you're a player who is paid (and there are NO 'gentleman' players anymore) you are accountable, your services have been bought and you need to deliver or else you will not have a job. If you want sledge-free cricket, remove the money, the media, the glorification of players. Make it an endeavour where altruism is rewarded. By the way, it's a bit hypocritical for the BCCI to decry Australian 'aggression" on the field then flex it's political muscle off it. They make demands, not requests. How 'in the spirit of the game' is that?

  • AndrewRichie on January 9, 2008, 0:16 GMT

    Let's Ban Sledging... You've got to be kidding!

    This isn't Tennis, there are more then just 2 players on the field if you didn't realize. You would have to mic up every player in order to fully implement such a ban in order to provide cold hard proof that a player or players were indeed sledging and to know exactly what was said... and that's not going to happen is it.

  • soluved on January 8, 2008, 23:52 GMT

    I don't get it...Wasn't Harbajan the one who sledged ? How is it that we're turning the table on this one. The victim is Andrew Symmonds. I've yet to hear any sort of remorse from Harbajan.

  • HWP2 on January 8, 2008, 23:48 GMT

    Positive evidence (ie "I heard him say ......") is always going to carry more weight than negative evidence (ie "I didn't hear him say ....."). The latter statement doesn't prove that "......" wasn't said; it simply proves that the witness didn't hear it said. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that the Indian witnesses' evidence could be conclusive as to whether the comment was made even if that evidence was accepted as completely truthful. The exception, of course, is Harbajhan himself - he would know what he said and his evidence must have been rejected as untruthful. By the way, it is informative that no Indian offical or player (or blogger)has accepted that the term "monkey" is racially offensive - it is still not clear whether the Indian objection is that Harbajhan did not say the word, or that the word is not offensive, or a bit of both.

  • aussiewombat on January 8, 2008, 23:33 GMT

    This whole thing is a beat up by the media - cricket is a far better sport through the efforts of great cricketers like Ponting , Symonds, Harbhajan ........... For this we should be thanking these guys not questioning their sportsmanship. Any sledging should be dealt with on the field by the umpires and captians - end of story. You can't remove it from the game - this would be a tradgedy. Next you will want there to be a participation medal given to all who were involved in the test match - and forget about who won or lost!!

  • sledging on January 8, 2008, 23:32 GMT

    C'mon Tim you are a big Joker. Do you actually suggest Ponting to ask other captains to sign a PLEDGE? what happened to the pledge he signed with Kumble? why did he appeal for the grassed catch he took? and then acting as a umpire for clarks catch.. what a Joke.

    Is this the precedent you support?

  • elephant on January 8, 2008, 22:42 GMT

    I disagree with this author entirely.

    SLEDGING is just words and words can't hurt anyone on the field. They are just words and as long as there are no physical attacks on players that is perfectly fine by any fair and sane person.

    To ban sledging would be to ban talking and in a country with free speach like Australia what a shame that would be.

  • k_dindayal on January 8, 2008, 22:34 GMT

    Tim, The idea of banning sledging is a great idea and I strongly support it, but for some cricketers it is a part of there game of cricket and would make it too difficult to ban. If we ban sledging whole teams could be banned or the best players would miss out due to sledging, Many wicket-keepers are big on sledging, and they are probably making most of their remarks to the batsmen. Why does Harbhajan have to get a three match ban when Sreesanth did the same in the ODI series. So i do believe that sledging would be to hard to change as it a part of peoples natural game.

  • chinmaypatil on January 8, 2008, 22:15 GMT

    Tim has made a fair point to ban sledging. But, I want to turn the attention to more practical side of the game. Demeaning the opposition or sledging is part of every sport. Fights between players is an inseparable part of ice hockey games. Cricket is not a gentleman's game anymore. The teams go wrong when they report such issues to officials when they have been doing it consistently themselves. That behavior is quite hypocritical. That's exactly what happened at Sydney. The Asian teams, historically have been silent teams, but the young team members are changing that culture. And when they fight back at teams like Australia, they are finding it difficult to take it. With the advent of technology, it may be possible to track down the culprits. But, I would rather want to stick with the famous Australian saying "what happens on the field stays on the field" if it's followed properly ;).

  • stholas on January 8, 2008, 22:00 GMT

    Don't care what anyone says, sledging is required! It livens the game. The Aussies just need to learn how to take as good as they give! Frankly, I don't know of a single instance where a monkey has given birth to a human. I do know of many illegitimate children being born though. Which one is the more offensive comment, then? One that can clearly be refuted as impossible, or one that is very possible? Symonds chose to get offended, and that's his problem. I don't think the Aussies ever stopped sledging for fear of offending anyone? If we all choose to get offended at everything, then the Thirld World War can't be too far behind. If the 12th Man CDs are anything to go by, the Aussies are a fun loving bunch who have a great sense of humor, and don't mind getting ribbed either. Their cricket team is the exception, and not the rule. Please don't blame sledging for their peurile behavior! Don't hang the wrong person!

  • bilz01 on January 8, 2008, 21:59 GMT

    i quite agree with the author and am mighty pleased that there is no mention of pakistani team as offenders. i guess we are the best mannered lot arent we?

  • Aussie_in_US on January 8, 2008, 21:58 GMT

    Calling someone a pommie has nothing to do with racism and to suggest such is ridiculous. There is a line that can not be crossed when it comes to sledging. When people stay within those boundries I think sledging can add to the game. That line has to be drawn, and I think something like racism is totally unacceptable and if anyone were to cross that line they should face the consequences. I understand India's appealing the decision, but I find it hard to believe the Australian team would make up such a story to try and have an opposing player suspended. If what Bajji is acused of is true, then is there anyone who really feels like he has been hard done by. Surely not

  • CricketFromAfar on January 8, 2008, 21:55 GMT

    Lovely article. The wikipedia says the following about sledging in Australia and New Zealand: "In Australia and New Zealand, sledging is seen as fair game and part of masculine discourse. Adult males commonly insult each other as part of social relations, particularly in sport; they believe that "What's said on the pitch stays on the pitch". In this cultural context, sledging is not seen as a negative issue; those who complain about it are derided as immature and un-masculine." So is Symonds therefore "immature" as he broke the macho code?

  • dinpai on January 8, 2008, 21:45 GMT

    Abetment to commit a crime is as much a crime, as actually doing it!Symonds with his on fields antics with Harbhajan is equally responsible for abetment of crime.Just like ragging in school and colleges, so is sledging, this is resorted to by mean people not real sportsmen who play in the spirit of the game.This should indeed be banned as it is distracting,and even if the victim responds (in this case Harbhajan),the abettor should equally be brought to book! The law should not be blind..... and should look at things that led to the crime, in case it is really committed.

  • arindam2812 on January 8, 2008, 21:41 GMT

    I see absolutely no point in sledging. Just because it's the norm in Australia (or for that matter, sometimes in South Africa) doesn't mean it should be adopted or accepted. Watch a baseball game or two, and you will see that ballgames can be played without opening your mouth.

    Cricket should immediately ban all chatter (implicit or explicit) directed toward the other team, implement team challenges as in American football, and for heaven's sake, find some *reasonably competent* umpires.

  • onemorepov on January 8, 2008, 21:27 GMT

    I realize that this is an opinion piece by one of the more accomplished writers in the business. But clearly, the idea of banning sledging betrays the fact that the author and the supporters of this idea have never played any competitive sport at any level with any degree of success. Verbal challenges, one-upmanship, "trash talking" as it is known in the US, has been a part of every game. Heck, even as kids when we used to play marbles (I grew up in India) there would always be someone who would be either too boastful or try to break your concentration. Early on, one learnt that to be successful, mental strength is as important as talent. Besides, as much as it seems perverse to admit, it is an essential and enjoyable part of any sport. That said, what's said on the field should stay in the field. And players could try and be more culturally sensitive as Steve Waugh suggested. But let's not suddenly turn into cry babies and look to the ICC to ban sledging.

  • stormy on January 8, 2008, 20:54 GMT

    The recent test appears to have been the final straw for lots of us who have been uncomfotable about the behaviour of our (the Australian) team - and got us speaking out. It's better to lose with grace than win ugly. The Aussie team just doesnt seem to get it.

  • cool_observer on January 8, 2008, 20:51 GMT

    This is the BEST BALANCED ARTICLE on the row so far. "If somebody seizes this moment and takes a stand, the whole cricket world, sooner or later, will thank them."AGAIN PERFECT. Indian team should be asking for THIS more than dismissal of Bucknor. Let Indian team show that they have the stuff, and insist that there be no sldeging from either side for the rest of the series, for starters. I think Australia will be a much 'lesser' force in cricket sans sledging. I often thought, they haven't won in Twenty20 only because there is not enough time for their sledging to work :)

  • deepakcl84 on January 8, 2008, 20:45 GMT

    What a classic article,brilliant..wish cricketers can think on the same lines be it Indians,Aussies,Englishmen or whoever it is..Cricket is probably one of the very few sports that is built and structured around a lot "GAMESMANSHIP"..this article refreshes some of the old wonderful moments cricket has seen,"SLEDGEDING" is very different to a friendly banter and given the recent turn of events it could only get "ugly" and more hostile in future...so i agree fully with article and we need some introspection and get things into perspective...cheers!!!!!

  • FizzyFish on January 8, 2008, 20:13 GMT

    There was one player, very recently, who called a sledge a sledge: Graeme Smith. He was vilified for it by the Australian team, the England captain and many more besides, not to mention the cricket media.

    Smith had the Australians (and others) marked out as the bullies they are, long before this bandwagon rolled by.

  • thesoccergod on January 8, 2008, 19:54 GMT

    Good stuff, Mr Lisle. I completely agree with your opinions. Sledging is demeaning, uncouth and just plain ungentlemanly. And in a game that's been touted as a "Gentleman's Game" for ages now, its irony is certainly not lost on its observers. Going about abolishing it, however, is far easier said than done. Asking Ponting to sign the pledge would seem like a great idea, but given his arrogance and constant insistence that the Aussies played "hard, but fair", I would rather he NOT be the one to draw up this agreement. And Vaughan and his English chaps are no saints either. They mightn't go as far as the Aussies, but they've learnt well. KP's a good example. Which is why I think that it should be given to the teams of the subcontinent [India, Pak, SL and Bangla] to agree upon a set of rules and THEN have all the other teams sign it. It's not that these teams don't sledge, it's just that they act more gentlemanly. And, in today's cricketing world, that counts for something at least.

  • KiwiPom on January 8, 2008, 19:34 GMT

    1000 times yes Tim. Sledging is like drug-taking. It seeks to gain an advantage not within the spirit of the game. If someone takes drugs you will lose your natural edge against that person if you don't follow suit - so escalation occurs. Same with sledging. It's out of hand now. The recent episode in Sydney was inevitable. However, if we are to outlaw sleding, we will need to define it well. Yes we want to stamp out the Andre Nel style nonsense ... but what about the occasional witty remark a la Fred Trueman? Ban it - but be careful how we do it.

  • Jaydk on January 8, 2008, 18:52 GMT

    Tim,

    Couldnot agree more. Also folks who say that sledging would spice/spur stuff up should be asked the following.

    Do you need a spice to play cricket? (If the answer from them is yes, then they should be confined to backyard game)

    May god bless the game

  • davep on January 8, 2008, 18:45 GMT

    good article. one must remember the great West Indies of the past era....much better and gracious than the current Australians. They were on top of cricket for so long but never arrogant about it, like the current"chanpions". It was a joy to see them play against anyone. Wish cricket could once more be like that again.....too much commercialism in sports today. Pointing and his players should take a lead from the great West Indians and let people love them.....humility is the key word here. Ban the sledging.

  • RWood on January 8, 2008, 18:21 GMT

    Sledging is vile. It's been impossible to admire Australian teams for years now. I don't think it was nearly as bad before Chappell Sr. arrived as a captain. NZers can easily recall some particularly bad examples directed at them.

  • georgeismyname on January 8, 2008, 17:56 GMT

    Don't ban sledging. It is an important part of the game. People sledge but they don't mean it personally at all. People sledge their best mates. I believe that what goes on on the field in the heat and emotion of the match should stay there and whatever was said should be forgotten.

  • imtapan on January 8, 2008, 17:54 GMT

    i would love to see that who is actually lieing? someone is bringing the game to disrepute , either its harbhajan singh who is denying comments of racism or the aussies who are complaining abt it , so either one of them has to be punishned and if the ban on harbhajan stays , he shd be punished or the aussies should be punished if the ban is lifted for make a false allegation.

  • shatadal on January 8, 2008, 17:41 GMT

    Best way to deal with sledging is to keep the stump mics turned on all the time. The broadcaster can even sell the extra feed as a value addition and earn more money, plus the spectators can even have fun at the funny sledges and boo the puerile ones. Hopefully this way unfunny sledges will soon become an extinct species. Win-win situation for all.

  • Lateralis on January 8, 2008, 17:22 GMT

    As usual, I largely agree with your comments Tim.

    As you rightly say, there's some doubt as to whether Harbhajan called Symonds a monkey, and if he did whether it was meant as a racial slur. Moreover, if Symonds had provoked Harbhajan, then Harbhajan shouldn't be solely accountable for what happened. As my mother always used to say: six of one and half a dozen of the other.

    As for sledging generally, some sledges and the immediate effects can be funny. For instance, Andrew Flintoff's "Mind the windows, Tino" (video clips are available on the internet). Some are even witty and intelligent. Moreover, some of the replies to sledges are even better. But you're right: aggressive and nasty sledges designed to upset on an emotional level have no place in cricket. It's supposed to be a gentlemen's game after all.

  • hchintapalli on January 8, 2008, 16:58 GMT

    Well said, I coulnd't agree more. Teams may win matches with sledging but they can never win hearts. Sledgers are disgrace to cricket.

  • sfo_novato on January 8, 2008, 16:50 GMT

    I agree with Tim 100%. People are going about it the wrong way. Ban sledging. Turn the stump mike volume up and not down. Bring some transparency. Different strokes for different folks ain't going to cut it any more. Bias is every where. Banning sledging would be a definite positive step in the right direction to make the sport enjoyable to all concerned.

  • Jeet.Singh on January 8, 2008, 16:36 GMT

    How about banning Ponting/Clarke for claiming a wrongful catch when he knew the catch was grounded. The same way Rashid Latif was banned. He gotta be kidding me if he really thinks he took it clean.

    Anyway, nice article, and I agree with you totally. Lets just ban sledging. I have played club cricket all my life, and you dont have to sledge to be aggressive. Let the bowling or batting do the intimidation.

  • kunal83 on January 8, 2008, 16:16 GMT

    i totally agree with your point here. an intensity of a test match, or the excitement of a T20 game will not decrease if we have no sledging. infact after an initial phase of few months, players will probably push their performance further, very well knowing that they have to let their performances do the talking. It will be a great mark of respect towards Sir Don's views. hope it happens!

  • godsgame on January 8, 2008, 15:49 GMT

    Did Ponting destroy cricket by refusing to play? No. Did he racially abuse someone? No. Did he celebrate too much? Perhaps. Claims from commentary box greats that Ponting should have dealt with the slur of Symonds off the field are ignorant of the facts. Symonds tried. When Harbhajan called him a "monkey" during the 7th match of the ODI series in India, an upset Symonds informed team officials and then went and knocked on the Indian dressing room door. He sought out Harbhajan and explained he found the term offensive. Harbhajan apologised and the Australians believed they had an agreement with Harbhajan that he would not abuse Symonds in similar fashion again. So when Harbhajan again called Symonds a monkey, Ponting decided enough was enough and felt he had to act. Racism can only be dealt with when its spotlighted. It has been. We now need to deal with the issue, and get over the fact that Australia just keep winning.

  • richkiss11 on January 8, 2008, 15:37 GMT

    Everyone knows that the Aussies try and use sledging to undermine their fellow cricketers. They did it many times against the WI and 1 player answered with his bat quite frequently. I don't think i should have to mention his name but just for those who don't know, Brian Lara. There was one incident in Antigua where WI chased the highest 4th innings score to win a Test match and McGrath and a few choice words to tell Sarwan and when he answered him back, he could not handle it. It was a very nasty on McGrath to do what he did. So if you want to give, don't complain or cry when u receive!

  • ACY1 on January 8, 2008, 15:30 GMT

    Tim de Lisle is spot on. The Aussies are the leaders in sledging; ironic, because they have the physical talent to win without any sledging at all. My feeling is that the other teams have been corrupted by Ponting's men. To see Symonds et al. whingeing over this is rich indeed. Ban sledging --- immediately. Suspend Ponting for a few games to make the point and suspend any other captain who allows it from now on. A points system should be set up to reward the good behaviour of teams.

  • Kulaputra on January 8, 2008, 15:27 GMT

    It is always said that the laws of cricket do not prohibit sledging but I do not remember the laws explicitly permitting sledging in any form. This needs to be understood as well. If sledging was not good for the old fellow, it is not good for anyone. BAN SLEDGING IN ALL FORMS.

  • Adrian_McFarlane on January 8, 2008, 15:13 GMT

    Banning sledging isn't a possibility so why waste time nattering about it?

    As for the hearing, to say that Mike Proctor "swallowed Ricky Ponting's view of things" reveals your preconceptions about the hearing. How do you know that it wasn't perfectly clear to Proctor that Harbajan was lying out of his &%$# when he denied calling Symonds a monkey? Harbajan can't back down now, can he? Apparently the honour of a billion Indians is at stake, especially the ones who write "I am Steev (sic) Bucknor" on a placard and hang it 'round a donkey's neck.

  • pneogy on January 8, 2008, 14:59 GMT

    By all means, let's ban sledging. And while we're at it, for heaven's sake, make sure that umpires make use of the excellent technological tools already available to them before making rash decisions. And, a change in the attitudes of the high officialdom of international cricket towards the players and fans wouldn't hurt either. This is the twenty first century, you know.

  • DonB on January 8, 2008, 14:44 GMT

    The writer has expressed a fair view and I must admit, has the courage of his convictions. Though, I do not completely agree with putting a ban on sledging as things have changed over decades and cricket too has become more passionate and closely viewed as ever, like other sports. Cricket evokes a lot of emotion and it is alright if players show it on field, but they should be within the parameters of the game and its spirit. Rejoicing among team-mates on a getting a wicket is fine but commenting or "hitting below the belt" by a batting or a fielding team is not in the best of spirits. After all it is just a game and people see it to relax and enjoy--not to read mud slinging attacks and controversies after the match. Don Bradman is a LEGEND and will always be in every aspect of the game. Cricketers of today should try and emulate him or try and follow the old school cricket, to ask the least. Unlike other sports,cricket has been a gentleman's game and the glory ought to be preserved.

  • browny254 on January 8, 2008, 14:37 GMT

    I don't think getting rid of sledging will work. The Australian way of speaking will come off to others as being a sledge, like Allan Border said in one of the other articles here, saying 'lucky bastard' is not an insult or a sledge, its just they way Australians talk, while this may come accross as being offensive to others. Im sure if Harbhajan had called Symonds a monkey no offence would have been taken, but after the events that occured during the 1 day series in India put it in a whole new context.

    So this may just be because I'm Australian, but I like having sledging in the game, it adds a bit of excitement to the matches, I know it gets me and my mates fired up when watching a game when we see some good sledges going back and forwards. The players are smart enough, or should be, to know that saying something racist is not on no matter where you are.

  • Sridhar.P on January 8, 2008, 14:35 GMT

    A lot of former Aussies, while defending their cricketers, have said that they have grown up playing cricket like that. I think that's how they have played cricket always but haven't really "grown-up." Cricket's a professional sport and you can't give excuses that you have grown up sledging and indulging in banter when you were a kid and would carry the same to first-class cricket. Imagine, this reason and rationale being used for other aspects of life. Aussie cricketers, please grow-up and be remembered as not just top team but top professional team. BTW, Ricky's team has lost a lot of respect across the world due to their (lack of) sportsmanship.

  • try_to_think_clearly on January 8, 2008, 14:33 GMT

    Whilst a nice idea it would seem to be very hard to institute. The whole thing has become so much bigger than the game and this is disappointing. I would ask people to remember that Harbijhan was charged with making a rascist comment (it was defined as a rascist comment by the agreement between the teams prior to the series, as well as on the tour to India where it was used by the crowd and bought to everyones attention as being rascist despite the best attempts of the BCCI to sweep it under the table, as they do when it suits them). Any rascist comment is totally unacceptable and whilst other sledging is certainly unpleasant it must not be seen in the same bracket (as India is trying to put Brad Hogg's alleged words). Holding the game to ransom as India has done in this case certainly takes away their right to any so called moral highground. It is worth reading Derek Pringle's article in the Telegraph for a bit of a reminder of how perfectly well behaved the Indians have always been.

  • Trevmeister on January 8, 2008, 14:33 GMT

    Hear hear! Great article Tim. Ban sledging. It's just not cricket. While we're at it: when are they going to introduce that rule I heard about where each captain would get say 2 objections in a test match? If the captain feels the umpire has got it wrong he can request that the 3rd umpire adjudicate. If the umpire was right in the first place then he only has 1 objection left. With only 2 or 3 objections you couldn't just object to everything. And if you don't object then you can't complain so there'd be much less umpire bashing on the field. Off the field too: the umpires get cut to shreds afterwards anyway so the failure to use the technology at the time doesn't spare them anything. It would undoubtedly have made a MASSIVE difference to this test. Ponting and Symonds out early in the first innings (Total cost: 170 odd runs!) and Dravid not out in the 2nd. All 3 of these were blatant errors that Kumble would undoubtedly have referred.

  • puntificator on January 8, 2008, 14:14 GMT

    Turn the situation around; an Australian player is reported for making an abusive, racist remark to an Indian player. The Indian captain reports it, but the Australians claim it can not be proven, because only Indians heard. There would be outrage, and rightly so. Wouldn't Indian fans be offended that their player's word was not good enough??

  • pkill on January 8, 2008, 14:12 GMT

    there is no reason for opposing players to speak to each other on the field. umpires should be given the power to keep players silent unless it is relevent to the game - and not to the opposing player. sledging is unsporting and against the spirit of the game. there should be more power to the umpires to keep players in line - innings sin bin for the fielders, 1 warning then out for the batsman and a visit to the match referee after the game.

  • SatyajitM on January 8, 2008, 14:08 GMT

    That's a fantastic article from Tim! One man's racism is other man's sledging and one man's sledging can be other man's obscenity. So, if you want to ban it, ban the whole thing. Let's go back to the gentleman's game. But you can not argue that my sledging is good and yours is bad.

  • woodi on January 8, 2008, 13:58 GMT

    I personally enjoy the odd "bit of banter" but that is just the Australian in me. As to this case, it has been mishandled completely. Considering the recent push to eradicate racism in cricket (especially in Australia, where racism is rife and it is considered to be a real problem), Ponting did the right thing by reporting it. Unfortunately, that's around where the wheels fall off. Considering the lack of evidence (unless there was a secret car-key mike in the cracks of the pitch) Bhajji should have been given a warning or an official reprimand, then he and Symonds should have shook hands and gone fishing. As to punishing the umpires for this, I think that is a bit rich. It is clear that they screwed up some big decisions in the game and I am sure they wouldn't deny it, but asking them to don curly white wigs after standing in the sun for 5 days is a little too much. I am an Australian, and a totally tunnel-visioned fan, but I hope Bhajji plays and gets Punter out for a duck.... again.

  • crackone on January 8, 2008, 13:45 GMT

    YES. BECAUSE SOME TEAMS WHO DON'T HAVE ENOUGH AMMO IN THEIR ARMOURY WANT TO WIN BY DISTURBING THE CONCENTRATION OF THE BATSMEN. WHO STARTED IT IS KNOWN TO EVERY ONE. BUT IT IS UNFAIR.CRICKET WAS BEING ENJOYED BY EVERY ONE EVEN BEFORE SLEDGING WAS INTRODUCED BY THE GREAT AUSSIE TEAM ! IS WINNING SO IMPORTANT YOU FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE. IF SCHOOLBOYS PLAY THEIR GAMES THIS WAY IN AUSTRALIA AS SAID BY BORDER AND WAUGH,AND YOU FEEL PROUD ABOUT IT, PLEASE KEEP IT WITH YOU AND BE HAPPY. IF THAT IS YOUR CULTURE THEN NOTHING NEEDS BE SAID. BUT I AM SURE THAT WAS NOT THE CULTURE DURING DAYS OF GREAT SIR DON. BUT WHAT CAN YOU SAY OF TEAM, WHICH TO AVOID A DEFEAT, WILL NOT MIND BOWLING UNDER ARM.

  • t3gs on January 8, 2008, 13:43 GMT

    Nonsense, as a keen cricketer for many years and having played top level league cricket I have been subject to many forms of sledging, sometimes personal, sometimes not, and I can honestly say I LOVE IT. If you are of the right mentality all it makes you do is knuckle down, grit your teeth and not give your wicket away cheaply. If you are of a different mentality then you may buckle, it is all part of the game and lets be honest cricket is not the only sport where two opponents verbally duel as well as play the game. Maybe i'm old school, but I was taught that as long as the hostility does not carry over into the bar, then pretty much all is fair. I do not use this as justification for racist slurs, of course their are boundaries that shouldn't be crossed but a knee jerk reaction to ban all sledging would I believe remove an important element to the game. Sledging is important, it has always existed in one form or another, lets leave it be, on the pitch where it belongs.

  • noseio on January 8, 2008, 13:41 GMT

    Sir,

    I have read your article and find it truly amazing that you can write such rubbish. Only a short while ago the world praised Steve Waugh's team from mental disintegration that was Sledging!

    Sledging is part of the game at every level. From a snigger at a dreadful shot on the village green right up to questioning whether an MBE or OBE was earned in test matches. In fact I think it was saluted in the press as an excellent way to add pressure onto Paul Collingwood.

    Clearly things can go to far ( this Monkey situation would clearly be, if true, completely out of order ), but any way to distract a player is gamesmanship and part of all sports.

    You seem to be living in the past, looking a sport through rose tinted glasses. Wake up and smell the coffee, life and sport moves on. You should too.

    Noseio

  • manzo on January 8, 2008, 13:34 GMT

    I think sledging should be ok as far as you don't cross the line. I think the situation has only gone worse by branding Harbhajan Singh a racist. I am not sure if he actually did call Andrew Symonds a monkey but I am sure it was not racially motivated.

  • specialagent on January 8, 2008, 13:33 GMT

    Hypothetical question - if an international cricket team (any team) was playing a test match against South Africa and one of the players called Makhaya Ntini a n****r would people be making the same excuses that nearly everyone seems to be making for Singh? Why do people seem to think that just because Symonds is Australian and the Aussies have a history of sledging, an opposition player should get away with racially abusing him? To say that the Aussies brought it on themselves by sledging is a cop out - sledging or not, nothing excuses making racial comments about any player from any team.

  • Carl_Adelaide on January 8, 2008, 13:26 GMT

    Perhaps cricket needs a code of conduct system, similar to tennis. Create a 4th umpire role with the discretion to apply code violations for things like: unsportsmanlike conduct, physical abuse, audible obscenity, visible obscenity, time wasting, abuse of equipment etc. Have fines/penalties in place for those offenses that are clearly defined so no hearings are necessary. Perhaps plant microphones around the wicket to pick up chatter within the inner circle where those microphones feed direct to the 4th umpire & are not part of the Tv/Radio broadcasters equipment (their mic's are turned off when the ball is not in play which is why nothing was recorded of the incident in Sydney). If you could work out the technology to achieve this, it might be one way of changing the game for the better. You could still have the banter but at least the tone would have to change to something more gentlemenly to avoid penalty.

  • puntificator on January 8, 2008, 13:16 GMT

    There is a problem here that all cricket fans should see, and that is that protecting Harbhajan sets a bad precedent. If our standard of evidence demands independent witnesses to an incident (e.g. an umpire), then players are free to abuse and vilify anyone they like, as long as only their victim hears. The Indian board is walking a tightrope here; if they defend Harbhajan by claiming that "only" Australian players witnessed events, then they are both setting this precedent and directly accusing the Australian players of lying. No matter how high emotions are running now (understandably), one must admit that this is a very serious charge. On the other hand, they cannot wave off the offense as trivial. Their best resort is to admit the offending word(s) were used, but to claim that they were not meant as racial abuse. If Harbhajan apologises, then Australia should ask for a suspended 2 match ban, and we can get on with cricket. Personally, I want to see his battle with Ponting continue!

  • joshreid on January 8, 2008, 13:16 GMT

    Great article Tim, I wholeheartedly agree. This Australian resents sledging of all kinds. I understand this view is not shared by our national team and I will admit with shame and horor that they are infact "champions" of that aspect of the game. No other sport has a concept similar to "the spirit of the game" and that is what brings such unique appeal to this great game. Racism should be treated no different than the other forms of abuse hurled. Ban someone for calling someone a "monkey", you better start banning people for calling someone a "goose". Be it motivated by race or whatever other base crude stupidities flows through the head of these gobby 'professionals', let the ICC move quickly, farewell its longtime allys of incompitence and apathy and ban all abuse and attitudes that surely could not be construed by any dullard as being in the spirit of the game.

  • steveg on January 8, 2008, 13:16 GMT

    I've played cricket in Australia for about 25 years and 2 seasons in England. I think I've seen it all. Punch-ups, racial abuse (worse in the UK), cheating, sledging and its closely related cousin, banter (AKA humour).

    Humour is a great thing on the field... and if that batsman gets out because he's still laughing... is that so bad? "Nice ball, you had in him in two minds. (pause) Two more than usual." After a wild swing "This guy doesn't need a boat to go fishing".

    Not all conversation on a cricket field is bad.

    If they want to stop sledging they should turn *up* the microphones so we hear it all. Even Ricky will listen to his mum.

  • Chrissington on January 8, 2008, 13:10 GMT

    Isn't sledging already banned? The umpires must be able to take a stand under the provisions of Law 42.

    The change that is needed is for umpires to start enforcing the law.

  • bikku on January 8, 2008, 13:05 GMT

    Absolutely correct. I think Icc and all cricket boards must consider it very seriouly. As a spectator i like to see great batting,bowling and fielding not sledging. Banning sledging will not make game boring at all. Again i must say its a great article.

  • LostBok on January 8, 2008, 12:59 GMT

    Crank the mic's up to full volume and then the players will know that whatever they say will be broadcast to families across their country - if you won't be proud of it later, then you shouldn't say it.

    Granted, you're going to increase the number of charges for bringing the game into disrepute, but better that than papering over the issue by turning off microphones... what's next, blurring out the players faces so you can't lip-read what they're saying?

  • hansie1_cronje on January 8, 2008, 12:53 GMT

    Excellent article. I am willing to bet that along with the total ban of opposing player verbal interaction on the field, that we, the paying public, would get the benefit of more overs being bowled in the day. I take my hat off to the aussies for their winning streak. They are really good at what they do, but their arrogance makes me want to turn the television off more often than not. I hope that the rest of the tour goes ahead as scheduled, and that the Indians gives the "George Bush" of CA and his team a run for their money.

  • A_PROUD_INDIAN on January 8, 2008, 12:43 GMT

    Well this article is deserved to be place in front of ICC!!! It summaries everything!! Sledging has to be stopped!! And if you really want to stop racism Ban sledging, racism will automatically will die! Cricket originally was a "Gentleman's Game" and it should be like that. Competitiveness is good for any game. But disrespect, arrogance & shameful behavior towards your opponents is not tolerable. After all thats what Sportsman Spirit is all about.

  • athersgeo on January 8, 2008, 12:42 GMT

    In some senses, I think it would be a shame to utterly outlaw on-field banter, but it's been pretty clear for some years now that certain teams and certain players (and my example would be Adam Parore's "chirping" at Mark Waugh as Daniel Vettori came in to bowl - and that's pretty nearly ten years ago now!) have long since lost the common sense they were born with as regards what is and is not acceptable.

  • paul939 on January 8, 2008, 12:32 GMT

    Wonderful article, Tim has really hit the nail on the head. Way too much is being said of the field, this is not good for the game. Wasim akram and Waqar younis, two of the greatest ever fast bowlers, never uttered a word, but that din't make them any less interesting to watch. The ICC has to take some concrete steps to ensure that the game is played in the right spirit, though I am not sure if the ICC has enough guts to do that. Good article, though.

  • Bone on January 8, 2008, 12:25 GMT

    Um, yeah......sorry....no, Sledging comes in many forms, from light hearted 'banter' to course language and yes in days gone by racial slurs. The ICC has said any comment of a racist nature must be reported and dealt with. The ICC also has rules and penalties for any remarks deemed offensive as Brad Hogg will find out. To suggest that all sledging should be banned is to say that second best is good enough in elite sport. You sledge to distract, aggravate, frustrate and annoy in order to find or exploit your opponents mental weakness. It is employed the world over in just about every sport. Some teams sledge a lot, some a little. It is all about using the tactics you believe gives an advantage. I have seen Australians put off there game with a few well chosen words, you just have to find the right buttons (England hit a few in the 2005 Ashes series). Test matches are about exploring all your opponents weaknesses in skill and mind!

  • Revnq on January 8, 2008, 11:57 GMT

    I'm not even going to touch the SCG Test debacle in depth - what really needs to happen there is everyone (teams, media, support staff, boards, umpires & ICC) jump in a lake, cool off, and start afresh in Perth. I'm pretty sure if Symonds and Harbhajan got together they could bury the hatchet too, and have the ban lifted.

    However I disagree totally with the concept of banning sledging. Banning abuse and foul language, fine, but there have been many gems over the years that add to the game, not take away from it.

    I have read a few comments about different cultures (say the Indians) taking offence to something that another (say the Australians) might laugh off, such as sledges about mothers, wives, and so on. Which is fine, but the issue is everyone is sensitive to something, and that is what we saw in India last year, with the Symonds 'monkey' chants and so on. What might be acceptable behaviour in one place is not in another. We will always have cultures clashing on the field!

  • kingcamel on January 8, 2008, 11:51 GMT

    what a rubbish article!!!

    anyone who has ever played a game of competative cricket would know that this is complete crap if you get a group of 22 competative atheletes together no matter the sport or scenario - verbal banter, sledging, trash talk, whatever you want to call it will take place. cricket - is such a great game because not only take into account fitness and skill to win but also mental toughness and whit more than any other sport. the verbal part of cricket is great - it's a skill like another other. when out in the field you need to talk amongst your team mate - banter with the batsman. the additional pressure that you can build with fielders making a batsman doubt themselves by putting ideas into there head is a great part of the game- i love it IMPORTANTLY - this does note mean RACIAL remarks.like everything else - there are line you must not cross - that is what the umpires are for. harbjan crossed that line & thus deserves a lengthy ban!

  • Mick_G on January 8, 2008, 11:50 GMT

    I noticed the champion sledger of all time was at the SCG, Joe the cameraman. We're a harsh bunch in Oz, even our own cop it.

  • sansin on January 8, 2008, 11:42 GMT

    It is an interesting article. Specially so as it is not easy to attribute what is racist comment without looking in the cultural context. Anyone in South Asia would be much more offended if called 'bastard' rather tahn monkey. Those ignorent of Asian culture should know that a monkey god 'Hanuman' is very popular in India. So how can Procter decide if the comment was racist. Banning of sledging is an interesting option as ex-cricketors, most of whom would not be very knowledgeble about linguistic connotaions across the world would not have to make judgements for which they are ill equipped.

  • shiverma on January 8, 2008, 11:37 GMT

    a very well written article, and I also had made a passing comment to my friend that comparing someone to, or calling someone, a monkey, might count as speciesism :) Of course, in my opinion, fetch it, by Pietersen should also mean racism, as obviously most people say it to dogs, so is Symonds being called a dog here?

    Also, calling someone a bunny in an article, isnt that speciesism as well?

    I mean, a bunny, no matter how cute, is still, arguably, less evolved than a monkey (a primate, that all humans are as well).

    So, I think we should all relax a bit, step back, and take it in the right spirit.

  • DCJ3 on January 8, 2008, 11:32 GMT

    This is an excellent article and one cannot but completely agree with the words mentioned therein. If not for any other purpose, merely from the respect to the great Don, ICC should take a step and ban sledging.

  • red_snapper on January 8, 2008, 11:28 GMT

    Best article I've read on cricket for years! Sledging is simply a players public recognition of inadequate skills, physical and mental, to compete with his opponent!

  • Kiers on January 8, 2008, 11:27 GMT

    As a grass-roots cricket enthusiast I agree with the view expressed in this article. That this should be an issue at all in what, in essence, is a way of having fun and developing relationships with our fellow human beings. The way in which these players conduct themselves would be considered rude and intolerable anywhere else, and yet they get away with it on the field. Perhaps if the stump mics were turned on, even if they weren't played live on air, but instead had another official listening and noting the obscenities on the field this will reduce the problem. Even if a policy was developed encouraging the host team to show the touring team around their nation, could this not then help with the relationships on the field?

    Two thumbs up to Tim de Lisle, this being the most sensible and refreshing read on this matter.

  • Gollum173 on January 8, 2008, 11:27 GMT

    This is true - I was never a fan of Steve Waugh as I thought he led a particularly nasty side on the field. It's not 'part of the game'.

    Incidents like those of the last week have led to ill-feelings between the supporters of the sides, and I am a little afraid for what the Indian team and supporters might face in Perth after all that has gone on.

    Maybe there should be a penalty system - where umpires can give warnings, then send players off for a session if they continue sledging. That would surely put an end to it.

  • ian_of_canberra on January 8, 2008, 11:17 GMT

    Tim- couldn't agree more. Players should be told to keep their mouths shut except to discuss field placements, tactics etc. Maybe umpires need the power to tell players to shut their mouths, and even penalise those who don't, eg 5 run penalty first offence, 20 runs second, and either out (for batsmen) or removed from the attack for the rest of the innings (if a bowler or fielder ...in which case the best performed bowler in the innings is removed). A few wickets lost or bowlers removed from the game for sledging and the problem would soon go away.

  • freeswell on January 8, 2008, 11:14 GMT

    I couldn't DISagree more... firstly it's going to be impossible to decide what sledging is and what isn't and who said what when and where, we can't even figure out what Harbajan said and what he meant by "Monkey" if he said it and on and on and on. Secondly I feel that it's healthy for the game, for the viewers anyway! These games are so intense and so hard fought its enthralling. I know I for one will be 10 times more interested in the next test, even if Australia are now up 2-0! Rivalries makes sport interesting. If we try to turn them into kiss-kiss love-a-thons, we lose something. Make it 5 days of battle, and have a drink together after it's over and make it a man's sport instead of a child's game with all this bickering and complaining after the game. Grow up guys.

  • djrohan on January 8, 2008, 11:05 GMT

    In principal i agree with the article. however banning sledging is not as easy as it sounds. competetive sports will always reuslt in high emotions and tension. Human nature is to react to these situations and the result in this case is sledging. Racist comments on the other hand are never acceptable or tolerable and while i can see the intepretation of comments isnt always correct most tend to be quite obvious. How would you go about policing these commments in practice? I dont think it is feasible.

  • Tumbarumbar on January 8, 2008, 11:02 GMT

    Tim, quite an astonishing article given the seriousness of the allegation made against Harbijan. You, as an experienced cricket writer should be able to draw a distinction between 'sledging' and straight out racial abuse. I am part aboriginal, part black African, part japanese and part white Australian and if someone called me 'monkey' or 'ape' I would take it as it was meant to be taken, particularly if that person had experienced what Harbijian had in India. Unlike Symonds however I wouldn't just walk away, I walk have picked up his bat and wrapped it around his ears. You see Tim the point is that you are not insulting me personally you are degrading an entire race of people and in your comment 'but he might equally well have peered through the lens of speciesism. Bringing monkeys into a sportsmen's spat is demeaning to monkeys' you are simply following suit. I can't see how your snide comment is any less insulting. Certainly I find it offensive.

  • Flymogram on January 8, 2008, 11:02 GMT

    As is so often the case Tim, a brilliant article. I agree completely with what you say. Sledging is a cancer that needs to be cut out of the modern game. As you rightly say, the late great Don Bradman was against sledging, and the legendary West Indian sides of the 1970s and 80s never resorted to it. They didn't need to. We have seen the decline of that thing called sportmanship. It seems to have been replaced by something called gamesmanship. To me, that seems nothing more than a word invented by the Australians to excuse the disgraceful way in which they often behave. Sadly, today no team is completely innocent of sledging. It must be stamped out, now.

  • jever03 on January 8, 2008, 10:59 GMT

    Absolutely spot on, Tim. Up to this year I haven´t seen any cricket matches since the mid-90´s and I can assure you that the amount of sledging going on nowadays is as disturbing as it is simply repelling. Coming from a country without any cricket tradition I can tell you that this sport has a uniqueness to it (the tradition, the language used to describe it, the breaks for tea and drinks and so forth) which should be kept and restored. I pity people who find a test without sledging boring.

  • RajitD on January 8, 2008, 10:57 GMT

    The issue in this case is one of culture. A U-18 cricketer in India is likely to get needled much more by an abuse on his mother, than him being called a monkey. This maybe different in other parts of the world. Players today clearly cannot respect and understand the basic differences between different cultures.

    As an Indian, I find Aussie sledging much more offensive than what Bhajji reportedly told Symonds.

  • ausindo on January 8, 2008, 10:40 GMT

    In general, we need to eradicate sledging as it is not going to help to build a good relationship with any country. We the Australians are very good at dishing it out. It never happened that no one tried to give it back to us. But now, that Indian team started to show some dissent about our behaviour, we need to rethink about how we behave and talk on the field. In my opinion, Ricky Ponting should not have taken the issue (Harbajan Singh Vs Roy Symonds) to the place where only Lawyers and solicitors will be benifited, instead he should have asked the Indian captain Anil Kumble to come along and solved the matter between Harbajan singh and Roy. Anyway, the sledging should be banned at any cost. otherwise the So called "Gentlemen's game" will be in disrepute.

  • Sportsman998 on January 8, 2008, 10:28 GMT

    It's impossible to ban sledging. It's been around for decades, and you can't turn back the tide. OK, it's become more crude, nasty, coarse and witless - but why should trends in sledging be any different to those in society at large? Sledging often involves fielders commenting to their own teammates about the batsman's ineptitude. But, of course, the only person who's really meant to hear the comments is the batsman, and the aim undermine his confidence and concentation. How can you outlaw teammates talking to each other? Cricket's always been a test of mental resilience, as well as technique. And because cricket's a 'mind' game, you'll never get rid of sledging.

  • Kourse_Bluth on January 8, 2008, 10:22 GMT

    Why there's so much fuss is well beyond comprehension.Whatever Ponting did was according to a pact which was signed by both parties before the series.For the video evidence has anyone ever wondered why Mark Benson was talking to Harbhajan by covering his lip movements? And if sledging is all that bad why Indians took it to another level when Ozs visited them last?If sledging is all too bad why the didn't complain to ICC on the famous "jellybeans scandal". Just because they won that test doesn't mean everything is OK. I couldn't agree more that they were hard-done by couple of umpiring decisions but they must also remember they benefitted from these errors many more times. The most notable was when Mr. Dravid in was given not out on a plumb LBW shout against Pakistan in the last series and they went on to win the match. Why the umpiring was not an issue? Answer is simple since they were winning. Curbing the sledges wouldn't work, all the teams should work on their game to challenge OZs

  • YogendraSontakke on January 8, 2008, 10:21 GMT

    Hello Tim,

    I just loved your article. I dont want to point fingers at anyone. But it would be a beautiful cricket world if sledging was banned. Please start a campaign "Let's ban sledging". I love cricket, I hate sledging. I don't want to say who started it and why. I just want to see clean cricket. Cricket is meant for entertainment and display of skills. Let the better skilled team win.

    Thanks,

    P.S. If anyone want to start a campaign to ban sledging I want to help him.

  • Stu_d_Apples on January 8, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    Some sledging can be amusing but a lot is puerile often goes too far. Banning it goes too far but there should be a line that is never crossed.

  • srikanths on January 8, 2008, 10:17 GMT

    He is right. There was no way that Bhajji would have spoken ( if at all ) the way he did, but for some provocation

    Anyone can be provoked. The most respectful of saints also ca be provoked.

    It appears that the rules are set by the Non Asian looby as to which is the world issue which needs to be addressed immediately

    The south africans will keep mandela in prison for 30 years,practiced the worst kind of racialism, the austrlaians practised the worst kind of racialism

    Suddenly they wake up to correcting themselves. The moment this was decided , they expect the whole world to follow their rules.

    Give the wordl sometime. Other parts of the world had never practised the kind of racialism aussies/westerners practised inspite of better education.Others practised a milder one and require more time to come out of whatever little bad habits they have

    What is germane to the issue is , sledging itself. Why split hairs ? Most aspects of sledging amount to racialism

  • IndianHeart on January 8, 2008, 10:12 GMT

    Well said the author. You have actually addressed the problem and provided a THE BEST solution for cricket future. This is root cause of today's sledging by Australians calling it as 'playing within the rules of the game'. Let the ICC re write the new rules of game banning sledging. Once again, hats off to the author for providing right solution.. hey ICC, r u reading this?????

  • NANDA999 on January 8, 2008, 10:03 GMT

    Tim this is the super article . i request you and cricinfo to mail or give xerox copy of this article to each and every captain , specialy ricky ponting who doesnt knew the meaning of racism or difference between sledging and racism.your article surely makes him understand.this article may be the first step in erasing the sledging and shutting down the mouths of the certain players.these are the people who started sledging and these are the people who started the word racism. Hats of to you Tim.

  • Sas72 on January 8, 2008, 10:01 GMT

    Good one Tim. Let's preserve the sanity of Gentleman's Game!

    It is very funny whenever Australian cricketers (Past and Present lot) talk about the spirit and virtues of the game. Almost 90% of the greatest sins committed throughout the history of the cricket were by the Aussies - Underarm bowling, using steel bat, introducing sledging into the game. Their motto has been win at all costs but within the the laws of the game. There is difference between what is legal and what is within the spirit of the game.

    They are just a very good team, miles ahead of everyone, but when it comes to upholding the spirit, they should figure at the bottom of the league.

    Let's preserve the sanity of Gentleman's Game.

  • danmcb on January 8, 2008, 9:52 GMT

    I'd love to see it happen. But don't hold your breath. Bradman came from a generation of players who saw the spirit of the game as being more important than winning or losing. Ponting and Co are cut from a different, and in my view inferior, cloth. It is right to be committed to winning. But recent events, not only the whole "sledging" thing, show that they care more about that than any concept of fair play, regardless off their transparent protests to the contrary.

  • infirmofpurpus on January 8, 2008, 9:51 GMT

    I quite agree. If you'd sought Vito Corleone's views (or those of any of his energetic bevy of sandbaggers, for that matter) on sledging, he'd doubtless have weighed in with a pithy: "It's not personal; it's just business." And that's what it is. Some of the most egregious sledgers have been known to commiserate with their vanquished victims. The problem, unfortunately, is that not everybody sees it this way. Sledging should be banned until such time as it is universally accepted for what it is--a harebrained scheme to erode a player's concentration, and not a personal slight directed at an him, calling to question his lineage.

  • V.Aravind on January 8, 2008, 9:45 GMT

    There are two separate issues here: What happened during the test and at the hearing. While the umpiring has been lousy, they cant be faulted for handling the situation on the field. Ponting complained, they reported. They didnt take matters into their own hands, like Mr. Hair did. If Bajji infact made a racist comment, Ponting had every right to report it, calling him a cry-baby wont change that. If Bajji was merely giving back some of what he had to endure previously at the hands of the aussies, Ponting and his mates should have the maturity to deal with it on the field or else they are cry-babies and hypocrites of the first order. We might never know what the actual case is. Now the hearing. We dont know if Bajji made a racist remark or not. Its India's word against Aussies'. That just doesnt cut it as evidence. Innocent until PROVEN guilty, thats the bottom line. Like Hair, Proctor gave a verdict based on his 'feeling'. Thats unacceptable. Like Hair, Proctor has to be punished.

  • sureshji on January 8, 2008, 9:45 GMT

    Some years ago commentators and people like the famous England Captain Mike Brearley said that the Indian Cricketers were too nice, not competitive enough, and never sledged. Indian cricketers are finally hitting back when provoked.

  • Subra on January 8, 2008, 9:43 GMT

    In the midst of all this hullaballoo, Mr Benson's conduct has been ignored. When an Umpire is not sure whether a catch has been taken fairly or not, he should (a) consult his colleague or (b) refer it to the Third Umpire. But it was strange that Mr Benson asked the fielder! I find this sort on conduct disgusting to say the least. R Sivasubramaniam, Singapore

  • jai-vijay on January 8, 2008, 9:34 GMT

    I completely agree with the author, its an wonderful article at the time where emotions are running high and high handed behaviour of one team is seen so blantly. The thing, such behaviour from one side, makes it inevitable for others to respond and no humna being can take it for long be silent, not even Ganguly and Indian's although we come from land of Gandhi. But let me make sure at this juncture that, if such a rule is brought in, the team that would find it least difficult to implement would be India and hardest or impossible would be the Aussies

  • glencain on January 8, 2008, 9:24 GMT

    I think this article makes perfect sense! Call me a bit traditional, but I believe in listening to what our elders have to say. Don Bradman's views on sledging should be heeded because he was a 'gentlemen' unlike many cricketers we have playing today. No wonder cricket does not seem to be a gentleman's game any more, which is very sad. The administrators should be be able to see what is happening in view of the recent Aus-Ind test match. Or are they waiting for a worse incident. Sometimes associated with sledging and other bad behavior is the bowler needlessly flinging the bowl at a batsmen who is in his crease. It happens too often, and it isn't long before someone gets hurt. I could go on about other things that are enveloped or overlap with sledging, but I think the author, Tim, suggests the right move: comprehensively ban sledging! However, players today are far from being gentlemen. Therefore, the ICC should do ban it.

  • gopirajan on January 8, 2008, 9:23 GMT

    Australians are past msters in this art.If sledging is to be banned,umpires should be armed with powers to take instant punitive action.Refeerals should be introduced as in tennis.

  • Konrad_Carstein on January 8, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    Having read this article and many of those related to it, I cannot help but feel that once again, the ICC is dithering. Over the last few months, there have been several opportunities for them to seize the initiative yet they seem more concerned with short-term measures that effectively sweep the matter under the carpet. Take the issue of sledging. The ICC would still have us believe that cricket is a sportsman's game, where there is still a great deal of integrity. I agree that sledging undermines this principle and ruins the enjoyment of a game, particularly when young children present at a ground have to listen to players swearing. Rather than rely on captains to make an agreement, let the ICC act and show determined leadership for once. I am also appalled by the furore over the umpiring situation. Granted Mr. Bucknor made mistakes but once more the ICC refuse to take a stand and take the easy way out. Accept the fact that technology can aid an umpire, not crucify him with it.

  • Makki on January 8, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    As good as it sounds 'Lets Ban Sledging', I think we need to face it, that can and should never happen. Its become so deeply rooted with players from Australia and South Africa that players from the sub continent have now started doing it frequently and hence it is here to stay. I for one disagree with the writer. I think if players came out there, stood in the field for however long (depending on whether test or ODI) and went back in the changing rooms, without any banter, any sportsmanship, it would kill the game. As it is cricket is dying a slow death, even in its own backyard, the subcontinent. With more and more people shying away from tests and ODIs and Football or Soccer, as its known to many, gaining in popularity. I think to say 'lets ban sledging' sounds beautiful but the reprucusions that would have on this sport would be ugly.

  • Kanchb on January 8, 2008, 8:54 GMT

    Thank you for bringing it all back to the basics. The sledging has to stop. Your comments about euphemisms by cricketers in this age are excellent. Let me refer you to the Australian Spirit Pledge where it states... "We do not condone or engage in sledging or any other conduct that constitutes personal abuse"... Ponting has referred to this "Spirit" in the way the game was played... Those that were viewing the game may think otherwise.

  • batman100 on January 8, 2008, 8:49 GMT

    Tim I am in total aggreement with your post, My question is,I teach say up to 15 yr old's,please tell me how do I as a coach teach young players the art of 'sledging'and at what age should I start to teach them, also can I ask the person's that say that sledgings part of the game,where can you find in the coaching manuals that says this, We must be very careful,just read the daliy newsprint,on matters other than sport.

  • Natural_Outswing on January 8, 2008, 8:30 GMT

    I understand the noble sentiments behind this article and the subsequent posts, but I don't find a ban on sledging to be realistic or desireable. Take the 2005 Ashes when the odd spat, plenty of sledging and edifying sportsmanship all combined to give us a and hugely enjoyable series. Sledging is a product intense competition and you face a choice - either tune it out and rub their noses in it with your performance or succumb. I mean, does Andrew Symonds REALLY worry if KP calls him a specialist fielder?

    The current situation in Australia is a mess. Harbhajan has been harshly treated because his guilt seems unproveable, the ICC can't provide a timely appeals process before the next test and Indian cricket has in a veiled fashion held a series to ransom so that Umpire Bucknor has been dropped - because the match referee got it wrong. Proceedure is to blame, not the sledging.

  • mediadude on January 8, 2008, 8:10 GMT

    Agree with Buttsy. Also on the evidence of what Harbhajan said, one person's word against another is not sufficient evidence but five against one certainly is. You don't need to be a High Court judge to know that one. Jakesladder also points out Harbhajan's unsportsman-like behaviour not to mention his lack of gymnastic ability with his rolling around after dismissing Ponting. Agree it would not be hard to stop sledging, with comments to be directed only at your own team without personal references to the other side (per Sydney baseball, another sport well known for sledging)

  • WhatMustTheICCThink on January 8, 2008, 7:52 GMT

    Thank you, Tim. Damn good article. Please send this to international captains.

    Sledging is getting way out of hand. How often have we seen shoulder barges and nudges in the last 12 months? It going to end in someone taking a swing.

    And I wish players would do something about walking, too. They whine about bad umpiring, but don't give the on field officials a chance. If players walked, there'd be fewer wrong dismissals.

    Until this match, Australia were strict about not claiming catches that may have touched the ground, for fear of looking like a cheat on replay. Why not act the same when batting?

  • FERNAHS on January 8, 2008, 7:36 GMT

    This article is very good.but if ICC is going to ban sledging ,it should be clear on what basis they are going to do that and the policy on baning sledging should be transparent.and also to capture all the stump microphones should be on all the time.If I add some more to this article ,Autralians are the leaders for sledging.Because they try to win the game by distracting the opponent ,because they dont value the spirit of the game they need only the win.I think considering past Andrew Symonds is the one that should be banned for sledging firstly.

  • Macca73 on January 8, 2008, 7:06 GMT

    Nice idea, but unfortunately all you are proposing is to draw a different line in the sand which will be just as confusing. When does talking become sledging? Would a fieldsman still be permitted to say "well bowled" when a ball beats the bat? What about "Well bowled ... unlucky", "Well bowled, you've got him fishing"? or "Well bowled, this joker's got no idea!". Where in this list of possible phrases did talking become sledging, if at all? Should there just be dead silence on the field other than the captain giving directions to his fielders? Let me know when you have a complete list of all the things you can and can't say.

  • Elenare on January 8, 2008, 6:56 GMT

    It would be fantastic to ban sledging. It certainly doesn't add anything to the spectators enjoyment as this case proves it can't be heard by spectators except on TV and even then the intentionally damaging comments are well away from the mike.

    The big problem is defining the grey border between "team encouragement" and "mental undermining".

  • Abhimanyu_Dasgupta on January 8, 2008, 6:45 GMT

    Tim,

    Thank you for a wonderful article. You've hit the nail on the head. The Aussies claim that sledging's OK(part of the game apparently) while racist remarks arent??What nonsense! Even some stupid guy in ESPN's sportcenter tried explaining the difference between the two and was hopeless at it. If sledging is mental disintegration, what do you think is said to provoke it? Isnt that as bad as racism itself? Both are nothing but a way of getting under your opponents skin through unwanted remarks. They should both be treated equally harshly. I cant believe the ICC turns a blind eye everytime the Aussies are accused of anything. Forget the Sydney test and their rubbish sportsmanship. What about their on field attitude for the last decade or so? I hope Mr.Gavaskar's taking note of all this. He's the only one who seems to be capable of standing up to the ICC. The problem with all the other nations(and India) is that they never notice this unless they're at the receiving end.

  • buttsy1 on January 8, 2008, 6:31 GMT

    Tim, you've fallen at the first hurdle: Harbhajan wasn't reported to the match referee for sledging - it was for a racist comment. This occurred because prior to the series, the ICC told the captains that any racist slurs should be reported to the match umpires. Now I knew that, and you should have too as a cricket journalist. That also explains why the umpires did not hear anything. Ponting was doing as directed by the ICC. Secondly, what constitiutes sledging? What about a wicket-keeper congratulating a bowler on a near miss, and encouraging more of the same because the batsman is struggling with that type of delivery? Is that sledging? And why, in all this discussion, has it not occurred to anyone that sledging happens in all sports. So does each sport's equivalent of not walking: did that Italian player at the World Cup point out to the ref that he had in fact taken a dive to get a penalty? I think cricket is being a bit precious in all this.

  • Amol_1908 on January 8, 2008, 6:25 GMT

    Very well written article. I could not agree more with it. It is time ICC include Ban on on-field interaction & any verbal exchange between opposing players. You cannot have rules that permit incessant provocative things being said by one party, thus provoking other to such an extent that he either reacts in equal or more provocative way. So much for the sportsman spirit!! When you don't see that in Tennis (or any individual sport for that matter) which is still a loved-by-all game (& very popular in Australia as well), why should it be there in a game like cricket? Cricket, certainly cannot be compared to team games like football & hockey, which demand more of physical strength than individual skills & which are outright strict on arrogant / unacceptable on-field bahaviour (in form of red card / yellow card). That brings us to another question - should on-field umpires have more rights to control on-field behaviour?

  • Ozmac on January 8, 2008, 6:23 GMT

    As an Aussie, I couldn't agree more with your wish to ban sledging. But it will be a hard battle, as unfortunately sledging has become an entrenched habit, from junior levels onwards.

    Purely as an example, during the ad breaks in Oz, at the end of each over there's a "backyard cricket" ad sponsored by Ford. In it, there are two teams: Hussey's Heroes and Roy (Symonds') Rebels. The ad features Hussey and Hayden choosing from a bunch of kids for their team; and Symonds and Michael Clarke choosing kids for their team. As each kid is chosen, the Aussie cricketers sledge the kids, and the kids sledge them back, even the nice young girl chosen for Hussey's team does it. It's pathetic and ingrained and no-one I am aware of has even commented on how ingrained this culture of sledging has become.

    Nevertheless, banning or at least repressing sledging, which clearly has got out of hand, is definitely the right direction in which players and administrators should head, without delay.

  • hl_cadambi on January 8, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    Could not agree with you more. Iam 56 years old now, love cricket, and would like to watch it as I did when I was a boy - with, perhaps, India winning somewhat more often than they did way back then! Even if they did not, though, my enjoyment of the game would be far higher than it is now, especially over the last few years and certainly over the last week.

  • RahulMN on January 8, 2008, 6:18 GMT

    Bravo Tim. Great piece. As for the Sydney crisis, here is a peace formula. Bucknor has already been replaced. Now India should call off their protest regarding the Harbhajan Singh decision, and agree to abide by the ruling at the appeal. The appeal should be sheduled to take place after the tour, and Harbhajan's sentence can be suspended pending appleal, allowing him to play at Perth, and allowing things to cool down before any lasting damage is done to cricket. In the meantime, Australia need to take a long look at themselves and how they play the game, and need to commit to playing cleaner cricket - as they did before and during the 2005 Ashes (actually, that applies for many teams). Finally, the teams should sit down together, talk and move on. The current situation is ridiculous.

  • tgevans on January 8, 2008, 6:14 GMT

    Good post. I would do away with match referees and make it the responsibility of the captains to uphold the dignity of their teams. We really should not be in the peculiar position of judging off the field stuff that should rightly stay on the field. Isn't this why we play sports?

  • jakesladder on January 8, 2008, 5:59 GMT

    I agree with the thrust of this article.

    No doubt things did not go India's way in the recent test, but they crumpled badly in the end when all they had to do was survive 2 or 3 overs. It is ludicrous to suggest Ponting is a weakling - more like the Indian tail.

    Harbhajan Singh has form - from India in the recent ODI series along with those disgraceful Indian fans with their stupid and mindless monkey gestures. Perhaps they could not handle the fact that Symonds dominated te series and got the better of that other little sledger Sreesanth.

    Whilst the Australians are not lilywhite they are not to blame for the Harbhajan incident. Citing cultural differences and such like is just too cute. His antics when getting Ponting out were particularly unedifying like Ponting's fist pump at the end.

    Racism crosses the line and Ponting was right to report Harbhajan and in fact under ICC rules he may have had a duty to do so.

  • DineshIyer on January 8, 2008, 5:39 GMT

    Amen Tim! Great article! Sledging is for guys who cant have the bat or ball do the talking! The great West Indian teams of the 70s and 80s never sledged! What makes me really angry in this situation is look at the number of times the Aussies have gotten away with it... Slater yelling at Venkatraghavan (an umpire!!), McGrath calling Jayasuriya a 'black monkey' and all his 'fights' with Brian Lara! Its always subcontinent players that are punished for excessive appealing or showing dissent! This case was a case of "he said-he said" and how can u make a ruling based on that! I am sad that the Aussie players dont get it and even sadder that many former players such as Border, McGrath supporting them! Cricket's had lotsa things go bad for it over the past few years ... the Oval test, Bob Woolmers death, WC2007 and this is another sad chapter!

  • turbodude on January 8, 2008, 5:29 GMT

    The test match at Sydney leave a bitter taste in the mouths of all fair minded cricket enthusiasts. Ponting and his bunch have sullied the image of how a cricket team should behave. Character is defined as doing the right thing when no one is looking. A lesson Ponting has yet to learn.

  • tareque on January 8, 2008, 5:29 GMT

    Even when we play in the backyard or at school, 'sledging' is like a forbidden pleasure everyone wants to indulge in but nobody wants to admit they sinned. There is a fine line between 'banter' and 'sledging' and it might get obliterated in the heat of the moment in a competitive match. So banning sledging might be difficult, but yes a change of mindset is the key. To paraphrase those Australian boards on the field: 'Sledging. No one thinks big of you'

  • MickP on January 8, 2008, 5:25 GMT

    Just to make sure i have got this correct, if you identify a particular term is being used in a racist manner against a particular player, and rather than act against the crowds and players doing it you make a note in your little black book and say "dont do it again", then when it is used again by the very person who was warned, in the very series where both teams were warned, it has miraculously become reformed into "just sledging"? Sledging may be offensive or not depending on the context, but this is another matter. If any team were to so blatantly dance over the line after having it pointed out to them OFFICIALLY, with WARNINGS, then punish them - Australian, Indian, English or Martian. This is a case where such a line has be crossed, and blatantly. It is no different than if australian players threw around the Afrikaans slurs used by australian crowds on the basis that "the words arent offensive to me". They know better and punishment should follow. Likewise for Singh.

  • chris_dippenaar on January 8, 2008, 5:18 GMT

    I agree with this article. Sledging should be removed from the game. I just returned from holiday in Australia and whilst the Sydney test was going on a local radio station decided to run a competition on asking the public to submit their best cricket sledge to partake. By this one can only conclude that this is a widely accepted practice and one the Australians seem to be proud off. Very sad situation indeed as this breeds a culture of sledging amongst youngsters playing the game.

    Also, cricket is played by many nations whose first language is not English. In many instances the recipient of a sledge understands it fully but does not have the eloquence of tongue to respond appropriately.

  • leeandtait on January 8, 2008, 5:16 GMT

    Sledging should be banned. Thats to say personal attacks against other players should be banned. A comment like "lets get this guy out" or "lets send his stumps to the moon" is alright. Remember these players are grown men after all. Both Australia and India are to blame for this ridiculous situation. The Indian crowds were a disgrace in the recent one-day series and the next time Australia goes there it will be worse. Rivalry should go hand and hand with respect, but it seems to be sadly lacking on both sides.

  • AgileEntrepreneur on January 8, 2008, 5:10 GMT

    To understand Indian culture, and what would be offensive for an Indian, one only needs to realize that Kissing and Cursing are not good-form even in movies. Men may curse, but not in the presence of women- and definitely not about somone's wife or mother. You don't even shake hands with women in vast majority of India- let alone hug or kiss. Case in point, look at the fallout of Richard Gere trying to kiss an Indian actress on a stage.

    "Sledging" the Australian way is deeply offensive to Indian players, but they had no recourse. Australians may find it acceptable to curse, but find "racist" taunts absolutely intolerable. Indians find someone cursing their wives or mothers an absolute unforgivable insult.

    You are right Tim- the only solution is to ban all sledging - cursing or racist remarks. The standards should be the same as used in the typical workplace.

  • Uppi on January 8, 2008, 5:10 GMT

    Well said Tim. I have not been able to figure out why it is OK to insult, demean or humiliate and individual as long as it is not racial.

  • 2nddrop on January 8, 2008, 5:04 GMT

    Aussie supporter here, disappointed India didnt win in Sydney. They deserved to. However, it seems like everyone thinks this is the first time someone has been done for racial abuse. Remember Darren Lehman a couple of years back? He got done (rightly so) for what he said.

    Ban sledging? If I was getting paid the enormous money these prancing nancies are being paid to play CRICKET the opposition could say what the hell they liked to me. Question my parentage? Go right ahead. Call me a convict (yep 1st fleet)? Go right ahead. hurl abuse? Means *I* am winning the battle. fact is I don't get paid to play and still get sledged every weekend - so what? It is only when the opposition start swearing like wharfies in front of the kids who are in our and THEIR teams that I have taken any official action.

    are you all men or children? Ive watched the west indies play test cricket. They sledge. Ive watched England play test cricket. They sledge. they ALL sledge. Get over it.

  • Raman01 on January 8, 2008, 5:03 GMT

    Your claim that everyone sledges is Preposterous. Here, the important one that you altogether refused to acknowledge is that the Aussies are the ones who started it and mastered sledging including racial and other insults on the pretext that they play hard cricket. Its becos of the irritation caused by Aussies, other teams started counter-sledging. Aussies are the real culprits here and as per McGrath, it appears that even school kids do that, which shows that the whole culture is faulty. We can even play cricket with sledgers but not with this Aussie team consisting of cheats and liars. Of course, I agree with ur point that sledging should be banned altogether.

  • On-Drive on January 8, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    You are 100% right. Sledging has been justfied in variety of ways. But there is no place for sledging in Cricket. I think Sledging will have to stop. If not stopped now, we will see a baseball type fight on the pitch in the very near future.

  • Sri-Lankan_Lion on January 8, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    Tim you are a good persuasive writer and I can clearly see that here.I don't see just how Sledging alone causes the problems and what is point of banning sledging? If sledging doesn't cause the problem it's the Umpires and I would say that the root ot all the causes in this test match is decision by Bucknor about Symonds. That was the start of all problems leading into Sledging by Harbajan if he did do it. So would you prefer to find and correct the root or trim the branches?

  • nrjgupta on January 8, 2008, 5:00 GMT

    Excellent article. At least from what is available through television and newspapers there doesn't seem to be any creditable evidence against Harbhajan. Match referee's is a specialist job, but I wonder if they actually undergo any such training. It seems more like a position to keep the ex-cricketers occupied and from what we have seen of cricketers (both Australian and Indian) in the last week it is difficult to trust their common sense. If Mike Procter is not able to back his decision in the pending appeal then this will further undermine the position of match referees. A lot has been lost over the last few days, ICC can still reduce the damage by sensibly settling the issue very very fast. Chirping of the cricketers on field is worse than the laugh track that goes in the background in some of the sitcoms. I think we deserve better!

  • Canadian123 on January 8, 2008, 4:56 GMT

    Do you want us to believe that Ponting, who cheated Anil kumble (http://www.rediff.com/cricket/2008/jan/07prem.htm) by making him agree to take the fielder's opinion on controversial catches before the series and used it to his advantage on the last day to show his "great Australian sportsmanship", will live by his words, if he ever takes a "pledge"? You have written very well about what needs to be done but I can only laugh at your chidlish comments on still having hope with Ponting and his cheats. Do you still believe that any other team that is going to play cricket against Australia in the future would ever do the mistake of taking Ponting's words? I DOUBT.

  • ObserverUS on January 8, 2008, 4:52 GMT

    Decreasing the frequency of sledging would be a very good thing, although hearing endless arguments about what it constitutes would be annoying. Maybe they will have to do other nonverbal things, like throwing jellybeans. Oh right, been there done that.

    In general one can say the Australians behave like schoolyard bullies and the Indians whinge too much. But that is a distinction that begs the real difference, which is that all of this is below the mark for world class cricketers. In the end, as with the overworked 'elite panel' of eight (eight!) umpires, all roads go back to the ICC. So take heed of Ian Chappell, none of this will be sorted until the ICC is revamped.

  • nvmurthy on January 8, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    Amen.. you got to one of the core points.. while this deals with respect to other human beings, in this case opponent team members, the other is to do with intelectual honesty, not trying to get away if one can with a cheating..Wrong appeals, putting undue pressure on the umpires, not walking when it is the player knows he is out all deman the sports!

  • Madhustarters on January 8, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    The article is very good. But when you say ban sledging, how is it going to be implemented? The best way to do this would be to keep the stump microphones on all the time. That way there will be no issue in finding the guilty party in case of breach of conduct. And it will also make the players better sportsmen. What do you think of this? I would like your views on this particular thing.

  • Flemingo on January 8, 2008, 4:25 GMT

    I couldn't agree more with the author. This is an objective, unemotional view on the underlying problem. Sledgins is for weaklings who are not good enought to win by talent alone. Worse, Ponting proved to be a weakling who cant take a dose of his own medicine. Time to ban sledging altogether and let real men compete with their talent.

  • dhruv_afl on January 8, 2008, 4:13 GMT

    Extremely well written Tim. Simply because what is normal "banter" to one might be highly insensitive to the other. If I were to call you a monkey the connotation would more likely that you were behaving like a clown or idiot. Parents on the other hand have almost a god like reverence to a lot of Indians so using words which suggest incest or question the legitimicy about one's birth even though with relatively harmless connotation might be very insulting to some.

    So either ban all sledging or take everyone's sensitivities into account (end result will be the same).

    Having said that this whole issue is a lot more than what Harbhajan said. This is a combination of the fact that every decision barring the LBW which admittedly are largely judgemental went against India and at huge cost in terms of runs. Its about taking an aussies word over an Indians when it came to catches and when it comes to evidence.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • dhruv_afl on January 8, 2008, 4:13 GMT

    Extremely well written Tim. Simply because what is normal "banter" to one might be highly insensitive to the other. If I were to call you a monkey the connotation would more likely that you were behaving like a clown or idiot. Parents on the other hand have almost a god like reverence to a lot of Indians so using words which suggest incest or question the legitimicy about one's birth even though with relatively harmless connotation might be very insulting to some.

    So either ban all sledging or take everyone's sensitivities into account (end result will be the same).

    Having said that this whole issue is a lot more than what Harbhajan said. This is a combination of the fact that every decision barring the LBW which admittedly are largely judgemental went against India and at huge cost in terms of runs. Its about taking an aussies word over an Indians when it came to catches and when it comes to evidence.

  • Flemingo on January 8, 2008, 4:25 GMT

    I couldn't agree more with the author. This is an objective, unemotional view on the underlying problem. Sledgins is for weaklings who are not good enought to win by talent alone. Worse, Ponting proved to be a weakling who cant take a dose of his own medicine. Time to ban sledging altogether and let real men compete with their talent.

  • Madhustarters on January 8, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    The article is very good. But when you say ban sledging, how is it going to be implemented? The best way to do this would be to keep the stump microphones on all the time. That way there will be no issue in finding the guilty party in case of breach of conduct. And it will also make the players better sportsmen. What do you think of this? I would like your views on this particular thing.

  • nvmurthy on January 8, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    Amen.. you got to one of the core points.. while this deals with respect to other human beings, in this case opponent team members, the other is to do with intelectual honesty, not trying to get away if one can with a cheating..Wrong appeals, putting undue pressure on the umpires, not walking when it is the player knows he is out all deman the sports!

  • ObserverUS on January 8, 2008, 4:52 GMT

    Decreasing the frequency of sledging would be a very good thing, although hearing endless arguments about what it constitutes would be annoying. Maybe they will have to do other nonverbal things, like throwing jellybeans. Oh right, been there done that.

    In general one can say the Australians behave like schoolyard bullies and the Indians whinge too much. But that is a distinction that begs the real difference, which is that all of this is below the mark for world class cricketers. In the end, as with the overworked 'elite panel' of eight (eight!) umpires, all roads go back to the ICC. So take heed of Ian Chappell, none of this will be sorted until the ICC is revamped.

  • Canadian123 on January 8, 2008, 4:56 GMT

    Do you want us to believe that Ponting, who cheated Anil kumble (http://www.rediff.com/cricket/2008/jan/07prem.htm) by making him agree to take the fielder's opinion on controversial catches before the series and used it to his advantage on the last day to show his "great Australian sportsmanship", will live by his words, if he ever takes a "pledge"? You have written very well about what needs to be done but I can only laugh at your chidlish comments on still having hope with Ponting and his cheats. Do you still believe that any other team that is going to play cricket against Australia in the future would ever do the mistake of taking Ponting's words? I DOUBT.

  • nrjgupta on January 8, 2008, 5:00 GMT

    Excellent article. At least from what is available through television and newspapers there doesn't seem to be any creditable evidence against Harbhajan. Match referee's is a specialist job, but I wonder if they actually undergo any such training. It seems more like a position to keep the ex-cricketers occupied and from what we have seen of cricketers (both Australian and Indian) in the last week it is difficult to trust their common sense. If Mike Procter is not able to back his decision in the pending appeal then this will further undermine the position of match referees. A lot has been lost over the last few days, ICC can still reduce the damage by sensibly settling the issue very very fast. Chirping of the cricketers on field is worse than the laugh track that goes in the background in some of the sitcoms. I think we deserve better!

  • Sri-Lankan_Lion on January 8, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    Tim you are a good persuasive writer and I can clearly see that here.I don't see just how Sledging alone causes the problems and what is point of banning sledging? If sledging doesn't cause the problem it's the Umpires and I would say that the root ot all the causes in this test match is decision by Bucknor about Symonds. That was the start of all problems leading into Sledging by Harbajan if he did do it. So would you prefer to find and correct the root or trim the branches?

  • On-Drive on January 8, 2008, 5:01 GMT

    You are 100% right. Sledging has been justfied in variety of ways. But there is no place for sledging in Cricket. I think Sledging will have to stop. If not stopped now, we will see a baseball type fight on the pitch in the very near future.

  • Raman01 on January 8, 2008, 5:03 GMT

    Your claim that everyone sledges is Preposterous. Here, the important one that you altogether refused to acknowledge is that the Aussies are the ones who started it and mastered sledging including racial and other insults on the pretext that they play hard cricket. Its becos of the irritation caused by Aussies, other teams started counter-sledging. Aussies are the real culprits here and as per McGrath, it appears that even school kids do that, which shows that the whole culture is faulty. We can even play cricket with sledgers but not with this Aussie team consisting of cheats and liars. Of course, I agree with ur point that sledging should be banned altogether.