January 11, 2008

Sledging: a convert writes

I used to enjoy sledging because it mirrored life. Not anymore. There is only so much trouble everybody can stomach
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McGrath v Sarwan in 2003: 'sledges involving wives and Brian Lara get a bit out of hand' © Getty Images

The other day Tim de Lisle called in these pages for the end of sledging, as he has done before, as have many other respected commentators and cricketers for a while now. It was not a sentiment I ever agreed with. I was foolish.

I felt it unwarranted because sportsmen, as we are reminded often, are products of the world around them. It is to our benefit that they mirror it, as art - which sport is - should. Not to advocate nastiness, but I felt it was not absurd, or even out of place, for cricket to contain the less edifying aspects of our behaviour, to occasionally disturb. Besides, much of cricket's bad behaviour is kind of Tom-and-Jerry amusing. I did not find Andre Nel offensive; I found him silly, endearing and entertaining. To take him seriously was to miss something.

I felt, too, the onus on sportsmen to set an example while throwing themselves into the most competitive, over-hyped, ego-fuelled of endeavours was not entirely fair.

This was wishful and misguided reasoning. As we have now seen too often, there is no containing the flames. One moment it is a cricketer mouthing off, the next there are hundreds of thousands going at each other on message boards. One moment a confrontation has added to the viewing drama, the next entire communities have drawn battle lines against one another. It is patently not worth the price.

What a useless spiral it all is. The Australian team's demeanour has generally been obnoxious, the response of Indian crowds to Andrew Symonds was deplorable, the Australian provocation of Harbhajan Singh was petty, Harbhajan's alleged response woeful. Most pointless of all have been the debates emerging out of the affair. One man's pig is another man's monkey. How far down this road do we want to go?

More jingoism, more rabble-rousing, more unpleasantness. As it is, watching cricket, at least in India, is an increasingly disagreeable affair. The more the supposed confidence of the nation grows, the more graceless it becomes in acknowledging the efforts of opponents, the more hungry it becomes to beat its own chest. Every new controversy brings fresh rage, fresh ego, fresh delusions. This is bigger than "a few idiots".

Players could help by taking the lead. Often they miss the wood. As Peter English illustrated beautifully, Ricky Ponting's inability to connect with anything outside the mood in the Australian dressing room was startling. So is his hypocrisy. The contrast with Anil Kumble has been embarrassing.

No lover of the game wants a sport stimulated by, in Peter Roebuck's words, "a dangerous pill called vengeance". If Ponting is genuinely concerned about cricket played "hard but fair", he should leave the decision-making to the umpires and instead approach rival captains to agree to, in modern lingo, "control the controllables". That is, hold back abusive behaviour.

 
 
Most pointless of all have been the debates emerging out of the affair. One man's pig is another man's monkey. How far down this road do we want to go?
 

There will never be clean demarcations on sledging. Most seem to like the funny ones, even when they involve wives, children and retards. Or wives and biscuits for that matter. (Though ones with wives and Brian Lara get a bit out of hand.) Maybe there needs to be a far greater upholding of the right to take rather than give offence.

We also know that match referees tend to worsen things. Nothing is funny with lawyers around. Umpires, preferably of reliable vision and hearing, are best placed to feel the pulse of a game and they must be not merely empowered but instructed to be more proactive. If nothing, there might be some worthy sledging from the white coats, at which point there can be a new war. At least it will be different.

The elders have been wise all along. There is only so much trouble everybody can stomach. And it certainly cannot be justified by some artistic ideal of being able to observe the panorama of human character unfold before you. I suppose there is life itself for that.

And now that all of that is out, to tell a happy story. The moment of the controversy, courtesy television. Breaking news: Steve Bucknor not to stand in Perth. The anchor (loudly, breathlessly): "And we have with us now on the phone line the doyen of Indian cricketers, the legendary Mr Tiger Pataudi, and welcome to the show Mr Pataudi, and what do you think of this decision: was this a great day for Indian cricket or a bad day for world cricket?' Silence. The response (slow, hesitant): "This is not Pataudi. This is Sharma. Pataudi's secretary." What Indians will call a mooh-tod jawaab, and not an abuse in sight.

Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of Pundits from Pakistan: On Tour with India, 2003-04

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nampally on January 13, 2008, 0:26 GMT

    1. Sledging is a word that emerged prominently during the 2 decades. There was nothing like sledging in the current form during 1950 to 1980 era. Hence sledging of all forms must be banned for the good of cricket. 2. The two Umpires should warn the sledger first time. After the first warning note the culprits. Each sledging should impose a fine of 10% of the match fee on the offending team. When it hurts your pocket, the players will learn very fast. 3. Umpiring should be TV-Aided for all stumpings, runouts and caught behind. 4. Players should have 3 challenges in each innings for LBW decisions, similar to Tennis. Items 3 and 4 will eliminate the Human error and make an umpire's job easier. Third Umpire should be provided with all available aids to make a clear decision. It will be interesting to see how the Aussies fare under such conditions. Indians who were "Bucknered" & "Hansoned" would have easily won the Sydney test if these aids were in place, as seen by action replays.

  • ChuckingMuraliMakesMeSick on January 13, 2008, 0:21 GMT

    Dear Rajaipur, Sledging is not about morality, it's about morale. The aim is not to hurt someone's feelings, it's to introduce doubt into their mind. It also upsets their concentration. As for Murali, he is a chucker, a disgrace. He is a blight on the game whose actions will have repercussions for years. Kids will grow up using suspect or even downright illegal actions, justifying it by saying "but Murali does it". In junior cricket (even in Australia) we are now seeing greater numbers of bowlers with suspect actions - this is Murali's true legacy. You jump up and down about sledging which is within the laws of the game, yet you condone Murali, whose action was illegal (the ICC changed the rules, just for him). Do you notice that the Australians don't sledge Tendulkar? It's not because they revere him, it's because it's not effective against him. He is mentally strong, so they look for weaker links in the chain.

  • Magarmuch on January 12, 2008, 17:23 GMT

    "Most seem to like the funny ones, even when they involve wives, children and retards." Must only be you as everyone else respects their own families. Sledging will never be banned as that takes away Australia's mental games strategy without which it can never be the unbeatable team it is right now.

  • vijaytriambak on January 12, 2008, 12:43 GMT

    I am fine with Sledging or Abusing or making obnoxious remarks so long Captains don't run towards officials like school kids ! If you can't handle it in the middle whatever may be the abuse or sledge or whatever you call it, it is better you don't even suggest to anyone forget alone following it! In this regards, I feel Australians are like the one who could not tolerate anything that comes at them but very comfortable keep sending nasty ones to others. The most comedy of all things is Mike Proctor claiming that he knows what is meant by Racism. According to me since he was part of the apartheid legacy, he is the least one who has high-moral ground on racism! Ponting made calculated attempt to destabilize Indian team thru racism allegation to hideaway Umpiring horrors that costed India. This was tactically supported by "like minded" ICC officials - in the form of bad Umpiring which was helping Australia while Referee was taking care of racism to get the focus out of "bad" Umpiring

  • back_foot_punch on January 12, 2008, 11:10 GMT

    I also agree that players have the right to release any frustration after putting their heart out in the highest level of the sport. As long as it's not personal or offensive or on any religious, cultural, racial, stereotypical...

    You see? There's just too many no-go areas and this is why bowlers should just walk back to their marks and batsman tap the pitch or walk away. There has come a point where it is expected to be aggressive and this is somehow supposed to make a paceman bowl better, or a fielder a better obstacle to the ball.

    I don't understand this philosophy and if this is also intended to weaken the resolve of batsmen; well that's just cheap and unsportsmanlike. Fielders and bowlers can leave the field at any time, any batsman needs to concentrate, and I don't believe any bowler or team who resorts to this tactic to take a wicket have genuinely earned such a scalp.

    It's not fun or pleasant when people are shouting or saying annoying things to one another, like in life.

  • jimfr on January 12, 2008, 8:36 GMT

    And what about the crowd. Should they be evicted for shouting out a sledge such as these?-- --At the SCG Len Pascoe had bowled loosely including several wides, and been smashed around the ground by the West Indies. After another fielding lapse when he let a ball through to the boundary, a voice yelled " Geez, can't bowl, can't field. I bloody well hope you can bat, Pascoe!". --"Tufnell! Can I borrow your brain? I'm building an idiot" An Aussie heckler for spinner Phil Tufnell during the 1994-95 tour.

  • jimfr on January 12, 2008, 8:33 GMT

    --In a Sheffield Shield game between NSW and SA, a Waugh twin was taking an enternity to take guard, asking the umpire for centre, middle and leg, two legs - the whole lot. Then he steps away towards leg side and has another look around the field, before re checking centre. Jamie Siddons, a prolific run scorer who unluckily never played a test is at slip, and decided enough is enough. "For christ sake, it's not a 'f*cken test match." Waugh replies: "Of course it isn't ... You're here." --In one of the tour matches in South Africa, Australia played Hansie Cronje's province. Cronje was at the non strikers end, there was a short chubby batsman on strike. Ian Healy yelled to Warne, "Bowl a Mars Bar half way down...We'll get him stumped" The Aussies and Cronje were all in hysterics, all this was before a classic reply from the batsman. "Nah, Boonie (David Boon) fielding at short leg will be onto it before I can move."

  • jimfr on January 12, 2008, 8:29 GMT

    Lets all lighten up. Some sledging is just fun banter at the edge of gamesmanship. It isn't all unacceptable, merely part of life. So long as it doesn't get nasty or personal or incessant, it's not a problem. Telling a hopeless tailender who has played and missed numerous times that the thing in his hand is for hitting the ball is a sledge, but a funny one. It may psychologically help destroy his confidence further and contribute to his downfall, so....worthy of a fine or sending off? Telling a bowler that the ball in his had is cannon fodder, that he can't bowl for peanuts, and then belting him over the park, is sledging Large fine? Suspension for a match? Or do we just laugh it off?

  • Bone on January 12, 2008, 2:30 GMT

    I don't believe banning sledging will work, I also believe sledging is a important part of the game (of just about every professional sport). For those who believe professional sport is all about purely phyical skill, i'm sorry but it never has been. All sport at any resonable level of competition tests the compeditors mental strength, inculding the ability to deal with sledging, gamesmanship, trash talking etc. What I do think is that the ICC has got it wrong with there processes to eliminate racial abuse. In Australia (and no i'm not claiming Aussies are innoccent nor perfect) our Australin Football League's first step when any claim of racial abuse is layed is to put the two parties in a room, where the victim gets to explain to the perpetrator why what they said is harmful. Counselling is also part of the process. Very quickly did racist remarks become taboo for all players. Penalties are very harsh if a player doesn't get the message.

  • rajaipur on January 12, 2008, 0:05 GMT

    I believe that most of the world is mad at Aussies is because of its hypocrisy. It starts at the top. It does not help that before the Sri Lanka tour, the then PM John Howard calls Murali a chucker. The idea is to take out the most potent weapon from the opposing team. It is almost a military tactic, not a cricketing tactic. Also, the Sarwan/McGrath incident, Rod Marsh/Botham, Miandad/lillie, Gavaskar/Lillie and many others. Who started each of this incidents. I would be slighted much more if someone sledged me about my wife then a racist taunt. And dont try to differentiate between racist word, sledging, bastard, etc. They all are the same, derogatory, meant to be hurtful, demeaning. So stop trying to split hair and ban Ricky, Andrew and Harbhajan, take away the world championships/records from McGrath, Miandad, Lillie, Sarwan, marsh, gavaskar, Botham, then let us start talking about fairness or move on to the Perth test or better come home. Wont happen, because money rules!

  • Nampally on January 13, 2008, 0:26 GMT

    1. Sledging is a word that emerged prominently during the 2 decades. There was nothing like sledging in the current form during 1950 to 1980 era. Hence sledging of all forms must be banned for the good of cricket. 2. The two Umpires should warn the sledger first time. After the first warning note the culprits. Each sledging should impose a fine of 10% of the match fee on the offending team. When it hurts your pocket, the players will learn very fast. 3. Umpiring should be TV-Aided for all stumpings, runouts and caught behind. 4. Players should have 3 challenges in each innings for LBW decisions, similar to Tennis. Items 3 and 4 will eliminate the Human error and make an umpire's job easier. Third Umpire should be provided with all available aids to make a clear decision. It will be interesting to see how the Aussies fare under such conditions. Indians who were "Bucknered" & "Hansoned" would have easily won the Sydney test if these aids were in place, as seen by action replays.

  • ChuckingMuraliMakesMeSick on January 13, 2008, 0:21 GMT

    Dear Rajaipur, Sledging is not about morality, it's about morale. The aim is not to hurt someone's feelings, it's to introduce doubt into their mind. It also upsets their concentration. As for Murali, he is a chucker, a disgrace. He is a blight on the game whose actions will have repercussions for years. Kids will grow up using suspect or even downright illegal actions, justifying it by saying "but Murali does it". In junior cricket (even in Australia) we are now seeing greater numbers of bowlers with suspect actions - this is Murali's true legacy. You jump up and down about sledging which is within the laws of the game, yet you condone Murali, whose action was illegal (the ICC changed the rules, just for him). Do you notice that the Australians don't sledge Tendulkar? It's not because they revere him, it's because it's not effective against him. He is mentally strong, so they look for weaker links in the chain.

  • Magarmuch on January 12, 2008, 17:23 GMT

    "Most seem to like the funny ones, even when they involve wives, children and retards." Must only be you as everyone else respects their own families. Sledging will never be banned as that takes away Australia's mental games strategy without which it can never be the unbeatable team it is right now.

  • vijaytriambak on January 12, 2008, 12:43 GMT

    I am fine with Sledging or Abusing or making obnoxious remarks so long Captains don't run towards officials like school kids ! If you can't handle it in the middle whatever may be the abuse or sledge or whatever you call it, it is better you don't even suggest to anyone forget alone following it! In this regards, I feel Australians are like the one who could not tolerate anything that comes at them but very comfortable keep sending nasty ones to others. The most comedy of all things is Mike Proctor claiming that he knows what is meant by Racism. According to me since he was part of the apartheid legacy, he is the least one who has high-moral ground on racism! Ponting made calculated attempt to destabilize Indian team thru racism allegation to hideaway Umpiring horrors that costed India. This was tactically supported by "like minded" ICC officials - in the form of bad Umpiring which was helping Australia while Referee was taking care of racism to get the focus out of "bad" Umpiring

  • back_foot_punch on January 12, 2008, 11:10 GMT

    I also agree that players have the right to release any frustration after putting their heart out in the highest level of the sport. As long as it's not personal or offensive or on any religious, cultural, racial, stereotypical...

    You see? There's just too many no-go areas and this is why bowlers should just walk back to their marks and batsman tap the pitch or walk away. There has come a point where it is expected to be aggressive and this is somehow supposed to make a paceman bowl better, or a fielder a better obstacle to the ball.

    I don't understand this philosophy and if this is also intended to weaken the resolve of batsmen; well that's just cheap and unsportsmanlike. Fielders and bowlers can leave the field at any time, any batsman needs to concentrate, and I don't believe any bowler or team who resorts to this tactic to take a wicket have genuinely earned such a scalp.

    It's not fun or pleasant when people are shouting or saying annoying things to one another, like in life.

  • jimfr on January 12, 2008, 8:36 GMT

    And what about the crowd. Should they be evicted for shouting out a sledge such as these?-- --At the SCG Len Pascoe had bowled loosely including several wides, and been smashed around the ground by the West Indies. After another fielding lapse when he let a ball through to the boundary, a voice yelled " Geez, can't bowl, can't field. I bloody well hope you can bat, Pascoe!". --"Tufnell! Can I borrow your brain? I'm building an idiot" An Aussie heckler for spinner Phil Tufnell during the 1994-95 tour.

  • jimfr on January 12, 2008, 8:33 GMT

    --In a Sheffield Shield game between NSW and SA, a Waugh twin was taking an enternity to take guard, asking the umpire for centre, middle and leg, two legs - the whole lot. Then he steps away towards leg side and has another look around the field, before re checking centre. Jamie Siddons, a prolific run scorer who unluckily never played a test is at slip, and decided enough is enough. "For christ sake, it's not a 'f*cken test match." Waugh replies: "Of course it isn't ... You're here." --In one of the tour matches in South Africa, Australia played Hansie Cronje's province. Cronje was at the non strikers end, there was a short chubby batsman on strike. Ian Healy yelled to Warne, "Bowl a Mars Bar half way down...We'll get him stumped" The Aussies and Cronje were all in hysterics, all this was before a classic reply from the batsman. "Nah, Boonie (David Boon) fielding at short leg will be onto it before I can move."

  • jimfr on January 12, 2008, 8:29 GMT

    Lets all lighten up. Some sledging is just fun banter at the edge of gamesmanship. It isn't all unacceptable, merely part of life. So long as it doesn't get nasty or personal or incessant, it's not a problem. Telling a hopeless tailender who has played and missed numerous times that the thing in his hand is for hitting the ball is a sledge, but a funny one. It may psychologically help destroy his confidence further and contribute to his downfall, so....worthy of a fine or sending off? Telling a bowler that the ball in his had is cannon fodder, that he can't bowl for peanuts, and then belting him over the park, is sledging Large fine? Suspension for a match? Or do we just laugh it off?

  • Bone on January 12, 2008, 2:30 GMT

    I don't believe banning sledging will work, I also believe sledging is a important part of the game (of just about every professional sport). For those who believe professional sport is all about purely phyical skill, i'm sorry but it never has been. All sport at any resonable level of competition tests the compeditors mental strength, inculding the ability to deal with sledging, gamesmanship, trash talking etc. What I do think is that the ICC has got it wrong with there processes to eliminate racial abuse. In Australia (and no i'm not claiming Aussies are innoccent nor perfect) our Australin Football League's first step when any claim of racial abuse is layed is to put the two parties in a room, where the victim gets to explain to the perpetrator why what they said is harmful. Counselling is also part of the process. Very quickly did racist remarks become taboo for all players. Penalties are very harsh if a player doesn't get the message.

  • rajaipur on January 12, 2008, 0:05 GMT

    I believe that most of the world is mad at Aussies is because of its hypocrisy. It starts at the top. It does not help that before the Sri Lanka tour, the then PM John Howard calls Murali a chucker. The idea is to take out the most potent weapon from the opposing team. It is almost a military tactic, not a cricketing tactic. Also, the Sarwan/McGrath incident, Rod Marsh/Botham, Miandad/lillie, Gavaskar/Lillie and many others. Who started each of this incidents. I would be slighted much more if someone sledged me about my wife then a racist taunt. And dont try to differentiate between racist word, sledging, bastard, etc. They all are the same, derogatory, meant to be hurtful, demeaning. So stop trying to split hair and ban Ricky, Andrew and Harbhajan, take away the world championships/records from McGrath, Miandad, Lillie, Sarwan, marsh, gavaskar, Botham, then let us start talking about fairness or move on to the Perth test or better come home. Wont happen, because money rules!

  • hairyharryau on January 11, 2008, 22:09 GMT

    Sport is no different to every day life , you will always meet people that dilibertely use the spoken word to offend or disrupt your mental concentration,that is their intent.The results they achieve however are always determined by the mental strength of the individual targeted.I have only ever played sport at the lower end of any scale but the personalities were no less enthusiastic in their pursuits of success,and as a factory worker,day to day life leaves me in a similar arena.My long winded point is this,give a $million contract and i can assure you that no words nor gesture shall sway my concentration......grow a set and get on with it,the rest will take care of itself

  • DineshIyer on January 11, 2008, 21:34 GMT

    The confrontations between Nel and Sreesanth were comical but the umpires chose the have a word only with Sreesanth and not Nel. There was no bad blood in their banter. The problem is this: Aussies dont sledge ... they abuse. How can u call it good natured when the topics range on mothers, wives, sisters and other things vulgar? Zidane head-butted a guy for saying something innocuous. Even in the NFL and NBA, players talk trash but are quick to point out that any talk about family is off-limits. So how can abuse disguised as banter, sledging and gamesmanship be allowed in the Gentleman's game? The Aussies started it and many teams followed suit. Its high time it stops!

  • mehul1978 on January 11, 2008, 20:44 GMT

    Sledging or No Sledging, everyone must accept the fact that if they are prepared to give it to the opponent, then they should keep a big heart to take one too. After all the person you are playing against is as much of a professional sportperson as you are...If you cant take it, you make sure you don't give it as well.

  • IlMagnifico on January 11, 2008, 17:08 GMT

    Only the weak sledge in anger.

    This is a filler sentence to satsify 100-word-minimum requirement.

  • sxbah on January 11, 2008, 15:22 GMT

    You cannot eliminate sledging. In some form it will be present in all competitive sport. It has to be dealt on the field . The players, captains and the umpires have to settle matters on the field, unless things get out of hand like pushing, shoving etc. No one is a saint these days. Let the players diffuse the situation amongst themselves. The more controls you put, the more controversies there will be as a neutral party will be asked to judge subjective issues. I was watching a youtube video of the infamous Aus v WI series with the famous spat between Sarwan and McGrath. It showed how Steve Waugh was upset Lara went to the match referee, instead of dealing with the issue on the field. McGrath similarly was upset at Lara. Contrast that with what Ponting did here, while Kumble wanted the matter to be settled on the field. I think more than anything, this kind of hypocrisy from Aussies has made the current scenario so unpleasant.

  • ACY1 on January 11, 2008, 15:15 GMT

    When I used to play (amateur) cricket, my team politely greeted batters coming in, expressed regrets at the batsman going out, and said "Good shot!" if deserved. We were pretty hopeless but our skills, whatever we had, won the game. Sledging to me is disgusting because it seeks to unsettle a player mentally when the entire focus should be on the physical skill. It seeks an advantage that I liken to taking drugs in athletics. Some teams are good at it because of the type of expressive and individualistic cultures their players come from, so it gives them an unfair advantage. The Australians are the worst offenders. Other teams, such as those from the subcontinent, come from cultures that stress politeness in daily discourse so are always disadvantaged. The field should be evened by an outright ban on sledging. Turn on every technological aid possible, monitor on-field banter in international matches, and suspend the cheats every time. What pleasure does one get in winning by sledging?

  • wmathew on January 11, 2008, 14:25 GMT

    Well sledging in all forms should be banned and cricket played hard and fair in the spirit of the game. An individual cannot be above the game and instead of a hard fought game based on the abilities of the players something else is going to play a role in the players performance. Ofcourse players should not expect things to be easy but things other than the game should play no part in the outcome. players with different cultures are playing the game and english is not the primary language that they speak so what works for one does not. Idiot & bastard can be the same as monkey at times because just these incitations can create a warlike situation . People who start friendly "bastards" should expect monkeys from someone who saw that as a threat. I think the Australians incited some of the indian players and then suddenly they find this offensive. Bastard or what not might have been offensive to the Indian players too. Either Stop it altogether or let them battle it out and have FUN.

  • Raman01 on January 11, 2008, 14:24 GMT

    McGrath called Jayasurya a "Black Monkey", a much more racial term than calling Symonds a "Monkey". Procter, the hypocrite, was watching silently. If he had handed a ban to McGrath and also banned Ponting and Clarke for lying (as the same Procter did for Latif), then justice is fair and square. The conduct of Procter is highly deplorable (convicting w/o any satisfactory evidence) and shows his racist nature. In fact, I would say Procter's acts (or the lack of) led to unsporting behavior and cheating from Aussies (and other non-asian teams), since they know that they can get away. A ban for few Aussies will normalize the situation. Also, sledging should be completely banned. The TV umpire should immediately come into play when one is clearly out (as in the case of Symonds, Ponting, Hussey) caught. Alas, if the TV umpire is so biased, then nothing much can be done.

  • sinusthythm on January 11, 2008, 14:10 GMT

    Steve Waugh is obviously correct in saying that what is funny and non-offensive in one culture is not so in another. I read an article by Boycott who essentially said if one monkey calls another monkey a monkey, is that a very bad thing? In US, all kinds of gadgets are used in helmets in football (the US variety). Why dont we start using stuff like that so that only 2 batsmen can hear each other (we have enuf problems with running between the wickets already) but cant hear the fielders at all. Let them say whatever the hell they want.

    Rahul, you know Sourav well. I feel that Kumble's apparent niceness is fueling Ricky and gang to do things that they probably would not do if Sourav was captain. I could be wrong. But whatever it is, Indians (and pakistanis, Srilankans etc) have an advantage that the Aussies probably dont have. Most of our boys speak 2 or more languages. Give them 'galis' to your hearts content. Dont get caught.

  • Zsam on January 11, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    That the ICC code excludes insults on family honour: assaults on one's lineage, character of one's wife/husband etc, should not be allowed to dilute the insult hurled by Brag Hogg at Kumble and Dhoni. For to accept that only insults based on some European/White sensibilities -(monkey: being such a term), is offensive and the use of an even more focussed invective as: bastard is a term of endearment, would be to risk every other Indian everywhere to this 'affectionate' term. As a nation we: Indians, have to tell that the use of the term:Bastard, is deeply offensive to us. Just because one culture does not value its parentage and lineage does not mean it can subject the rest of us to its boorish standards. Mr. Pawar must get 'assaults on family honour' integrated in the ICC Rule Book and get Hogg and other Australians to understand that when playing against other nations they should keep their locker room talk to themselves.

  • AsherCA on January 11, 2008, 13:58 GMT

    Sledging in most cases is fine. The real problem is - ICC and its unwillingness to ensure fairplay.

    To Mr. Malcolm Speed who talks about the fact that there cannot be a different rule book for India -

    That is all we Indians are demanding from ICC's umpires & match referees.

    The media might be trying to be politically correct however - in most professions, the volume of alleged human errors from your umpires going against India, without a visible balance out would result in questions of integrity - particularly when you merge them with visible differences in penalty applied by your match referees.

    I have documented to Mr. Dave Richardson several cases of blatant code-of-conduct violations by Austalians / West Indians / Englishmen that his paid match referees should have penalised, but have not including smaller offences from Indians / Pakistanis that got penalised. I have asked him several times to help me understand how this is not discrimination - NO REPLY.

  • sskurupath on January 11, 2008, 13:54 GMT

    well it need not be banned. however there need to be a code of conduct that what happens on the pitch remains on the pitch.australians must realise that they cannot run with the hounds and sleep with hares or something in a similar vien.

  • desicric on January 11, 2008, 13:34 GMT

    If you have played the game this is a moot discussion. You spend hours (days) out there under pressure, and a little back and forth is needed to help you not go psycho. Simple rule should be to sort stuff out on the field or better still just take it as banter and not let it get to you (enjoy it). As a potty mouthed desi I have been trying hard to decode what bhaji said. "Monkey" would just not cut it if I were pissed even if I knew it would irritate Symonds. Most banter is spontaneous and not thought thru and so I guess the effectiveness/logic of using monkey is not likely to come to mind first. The instint of any true blooded desi curser will be to resort to a ma/bhen gali. This got me to think that what bhaji probably said was "teri ma ki"..... or sometimes just "ma ki" and then u stop there bec the message is clear - and ma ki sure sounds like the offensive but totally unfulfilling monkey. So let these guys curse away...but not take it personal - its cheap and easy stress relief.

  • On-Drive on January 11, 2008, 13:21 GMT

    "the same section under which Harbhajan was suspended - because they believe the term "bastard" does not vilify a player on the basis of race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin. They propose to argue that this is about "lineage" ( Im sure they will argue whether at all a malicious intent was meant"

    Please note that a crime committed on a cricket ground is not above the law. A player can be still punished for abuses even if it is not covered by the ICC code of conduct. If a murder is committed on a cricket field, will the Aussies argue that the person is not punishable because ICC code of conduct did not cover a murder? Or which ICC code of conduct or cricket rules give permission for a player to abuse another? It can be easily argued that abuses are against spirit of cricket and the player can be easily punished.

    When Singh and Hogg cases are heard, Singh/BCCI will be better off having a good lawyer to support them

  • jimfr on January 11, 2008, 11:08 GMT

    Once you can define what sledging is, if you can, then you can decide what the code of conduct boundary line should be. We all know bad and tasteless sledging when we hear it, but the more subtle art of sledging in the armoury of a master sledger may be more off-putting and influential against an opposition batsman, bowler or fielder, even if less vitriolic than the back-yard effort of the novice sledger. If you can't define it well, then there will be endless disciplinary hearings after every day's play, deciding what was said, how aceptable/unacceptable it was, and officialdom will go nuts. The master will never get fined or suspended, only the dope............

  • butch on January 11, 2008, 10:20 GMT

    While sledging has been a major contributing factor in the controversy taking place now, it is by no means the only factor. Australia's boorish behaviour, for what seems like decades, is just as or even more significant. As someone that lives in the USA, it seems as if they have adopted all of the rerehensible aspects of American sports behaviour. Since when is playing hard and honourably mutually exclusive? Ask the Australians(at least most of them). Psychological warfare is fine. Badgering and intimidating the umpires is not. Warranted appeals are ok. Lying about catches is not. Winning is important. Winning with grace is essential. See the West Indies of the 70s and 80s for that. It can be done.

  • arculush on January 11, 2008, 10:09 GMT

    It's quite simple to stop sledging, as the law states that the 'sledger' is guilty if the 'sledgee' is offended by a remark. If every time Ponting and his schoolyard chums say anything that could even be remotely construed as offensive then the sledgee should report them - time and time again. If half the Aussie team were then banned for the next 3 games then it would soon stop...

  • bogieman on January 11, 2008, 9:17 GMT

    billybob67,

    the example you gave does involve a family member and I sure most of us Indians would be upset at that and you should realize that what is acceptable in one culture is not in others. As Steve Waugh a notorious sledger said the sense of humour is diffrent in India and Australia, whatever 'spin' you try to put on it, calling someone 'monkey' is ok in India but not the term 'bastard' and I guess it is the reverse in Australia. If Harbhajan said 'monkey' ban him, if Hogg said 'bastard' ban him too.

  • billybob67 on January 11, 2008, 8:54 GMT

    Sledging is fine as long as it doesn't involve family or race. There is nothing wrong with some smart ass comment to a struggling batsman especially if its funny. What is wrong is when you step over that line and start racially abusing someone. Such legendary sledges as " why are you so fat?" " because every time I f*#@ your wife she gives me a cookie" are what give cricket its very soul. Another standard to a batsman playing and missing is " bowl him a piano and see if he can play that?" one of the funniest thing I have seen is a fielder letting a very poor tail end batsman know how bad he was by doing bunny hops across the pitch in front of him at the change of overs.These are all sledges that are harmless and if timed right very funny. What isn't funny is for example, telling a dark skinned cricketer that he is a n*#@er or a F#@&ing monkey. Thats not sledging, thats abuse, and that sort of thing needs to be stopped. India, grow up, be men and learn to bat and field a little better.

  • Indyman on January 11, 2008, 8:41 GMT

    I think this debacle will be the catalyst for change, hopefully with Sledging to be banned under the players code of conduct.

    The thing the other bloggers seem to miss is that it will not take India to the top of the rankings in Test & ODI formats. This takes fitness, discipline and a commitment to winning in all conditions.

    Any idiot who thinks that Sledging has been a major factor in Australia's dominance for the past 13 years is patently wrong and as usual, completely ignore the real reasons for the this period of dominance - They had and still have the best team, a team that can win in all conditions and a team that is fit, disciplined and ruthlessly professional.

    In OZ, we can not believe that India is not the best cricket team in the World given the talent of their players ie how do you not qualify for the Super 8's in the last ODI World Cup? What is going on here??

    Seem to recall a bloke called Azaruddin who didnt exactly play cricket within the spirit of the game!!

  • Krishna_Sydney on January 11, 2008, 8:39 GMT

    How can you measure if something is said with a malicious intent or not ? The yardstick will always come under question. Players find new and ingenious ways and even so called "humourous" ways ( funny to everyone except the subject !) to bend the rules

    The Daily Telegraph reported that Australia will argue the Hogg case should not fit in section 3.3 of the ICC Code of Conduct - the same section under which Harbhajan was suspended - because they believe the term "bastard" does not vilify a player on the basis of race, religion, gender, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin. They propose to argue that this is about "lineage" ( Im sure they will argue whether at all a malicious intent was meant). If you ask any Indian they would say " bastard" is highly personal, and therefore much _worse_ than anything "supposedly" based on "race or colour" all of which all huge collective nouns !!

    Lets get rid of sledging lock stock and barrel !!!

  • Eezee on January 11, 2008, 8:39 GMT

    It all boils down to sensitivity levels. Every person has a breaking point, but exactly where it is, varies man to man. In the bible of "Art of Sledging", it says, you taunt the person at the levels the victim breaks to a point of losing his composure, in Bhajji's case thats what probably happened. Had he tried anything else with Symmo, it wouldntnt have worked, he had to say what he had to say, atleast Symmo heard him say to end up where we are now. Who defines what's acceptable and whats not. Aussies probably have a collective measure, but Indians dont, India is such a diverse nation, that saying something and being politically correct all the time is near impossible. To get away with all of if, cricket would do much better without "bit of a chatter", "bit of a chirp", or sledging, however you may call it. If, as Michael Clarke puts it, they dont want to play a silent cricket match, they can talk to their team-mates, not single out the batsman to start a relationship with.

  • markadam on January 11, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    Personal abuse is NEVER appropriate. What all these controversies show is that the Australian, English and South African teams are composed of foul-mouthed boors. My admiration for them has been turned to contempt. I have known for a long time that they are crooks: Mr. Martin Williamson can tell you, for example, about the "Vaseline" con that his team pulled (and then lied about).

    Now I see that they are not only crooks and liars, but are poo-mouthed crooks.

    Mike Procter was after all, one of the "Apartheid" players. Procter, Benson, Bucknor and Ponting should be banned for life for "bringing the game into disrepute".

    My condolences to all monkeys for being compared in any way to these. Come to think of it, though, Ponting's antics on the pitch DO seem so cute - very like those of a little monkey.

  • bogieman on January 11, 2008, 7:42 GMT

    A few questions to all supporters of sledging what would the Don have said about sledging ?. Do you sledge people at work ?, at market place etc. Lucky bastard might be a term of endearment agreed, but what about deliberate planned provocation to unsettle a bastmen at crease. I have lot of good 'white' friends' and none of them like being called a bastard or taunts like 'hows your wife and my kids' etc

  • Ranx on January 11, 2008, 7:26 GMT

    Sledging in cricket is no worse than in any other sport, but it is more visible because of the pace of the game, which also allows all manner of microphones to capture the verbal. I am dumbfounded by the reaction (obviously making me as arrogant as Mr Ponting in Peter English's eyes) to what is ostensibly 22 men playing games. If as much effort and focus was made into feeding and educating the world's poor I could maybe understand. Until poverty and ignorance are wiped out though, I think there are better things to concern myself with.

  • vsssarma on January 11, 2008, 7:00 GMT

    Aussies are the worst in sledging. McGrath is certainly one of the worst players ever to play test match cricket, if you consider the number of bad words he used on the field against opponents. It was Ramnaresh Sarwan who could pay back to McGrath in the same coin he got. Ponting is one of the ugliest ambassadors of the game. He is extremely arrogant and his body language displays it. Is he a greater batsman than Bradman or a Neil Harvey or Greg Chappell ? No way. The way Aussies behave on the field brings bad name to their country and encourages the ultra-right racists in his country. Unfortunately, Australia has come to be known as a country where racism flourishes. It is amusing to see them as the crying babies or sissies to go to Mike Procter with a compliant.

  • bogieman on January 11, 2008, 6:52 GMT

    Australia started the tradition of whining. Back in 1930 when the world's greatest batsmen including Bradman and Neil Harvey could not handle leg-side bowling tactics engineered by Douglas Jardine. And Aussies went so far as to threaten diplomatic relationships with Britain over cricket. Allan Border threatened to walk out of a Pakistan tour in 1989 when similarly crooked umpiring as witnessed in Sydney angered them. Of course they wanted to move out as Aussies were losing mostly due to umpiring. Infact when Dravid was given out I was stunned had never seen such a poor decision and I immediately switched off television, it was painful to watch 2 incompetent umpiring ruining a good test match. I knew then that India is going to lose.

  • sdhadwal on January 11, 2008, 6:43 GMT

    It should definitely be banned, in fact any word that is offensive to any person. If Australians think word 'bastard' should not hurt anybody then they should accept 'monkey' as non-abusive, not a racist word. ICC needs to sit back and amend its laws once again and better have representatives from all the countries playing cricket rather than just few test playing nations.

  • Harinder_Jadwani on January 11, 2008, 6:40 GMT

    Yes. YES. YES.

    It is a shameful, disgraceful way to play the game---to disrupt the concentration of strong opponents who might otherwise win. This is what Australian cricketers do best, and a big factor in their dominance of world cricket in recent years. Actually it shows how frightened they are...to stoop to such low tactics. This is a potentially great game, and cricketing talent should be pitted against cricketing talent. Not sledging talent against cricketing talent.

    All forms of sledging - personal insults, profanity, comments - racist or not - should be banned. The idea that this will somehow stifle cricket is absolute RUBBISH.... the great West Indian team under Clive Lloyd never sledged anyone - they used bat and ball to make their case. The Aussies will never be respected like those West Indians...their sledging, refusing to walk, and claiming grounded catches are some of the most loathsome tactics employed in this game...and the game has suffered. SHUT UP AND PLAY...

  • abhisaha on January 11, 2008, 6:36 GMT

    Call me old-fashioned or foolish, but I still subscribe to the view that sledging - of all kinds - should be allowed. Much of the jingoism and message-board mudslinging happened after Bhajji was banned for three tests. If there was simply no provision for banning players for verbal abuse, We wouldn't have had this ugly extended controversy.

    In my book, sledging is a part of the game and players should be allowed to say whatever they wish as long as they don't get physical. And that includes racially motivated remarks. Test cricket is a contest for grown ups, not a stage for mollycoddling the thin-skinned. Cricketers who cannot deal with verbal attacks on the field should consider other careers.

  • tgevans on January 11, 2008, 4:46 GMT

    If you taunt a batsman, you should expect the whirlwind. Even if it is wrong to say something that might be interpreted as racist, it is silly and immature to judge a person's character based on what they say under the pressure of batting. As for on-field etiquette, captains should reach agreement on where they draw the line. Match referees shouldn't be used as nannies.

  • simpsons2170 on January 11, 2008, 3:04 GMT

    I think any comments that are said with a malicious intent should be banned in the international level. As we have seen in the Sydney test, it's easy to offend people from different cultures who perceive comments about parentage,ethnicity, etc. I think players who play international cricket should be aware of this and realize that the Indian policy of on-fied behavior, (which is generally, with some exceptions, tame and quiet) is different to that the Australians (talkative to say the least.

  • Justin on January 11, 2008, 2:20 GMT

    I'm not sure what it is about cricket that makes sledging (banter, trash-talking or whatever else you want to call it) worse than it seems to be in other sports. But, I agree completely, sledging in all forms needs to be banned. I'm not sure it will be though, especially with the attitude of some of the leading members of the Australian team. Ponting, Hayden, Symonds and Clarke... great cricketers, but what I wouldn't give for a cricket match with them all behaving like adults.

  • Revnq on January 11, 2008, 2:19 GMT

    My biggest concern lies with the attitude of the BCCI to racism in cricket. It is not acceptable that they state that they will not accept that an Indian cricketer can be racist, merely because he plays for India. Appeal the ruling, fine (which as mentioned seems a poor effort on behalf of the match referee), support Harbhajan in his pursuit of another hearing, but DON'T automatically assume that being a non-white cricketer precludes one from being a racist.

  • Revnq on January 11, 2008, 2:16 GMT

    No, I don't think it should be banned, but there definitely needs to be an emphasis on what is and isn't acceptable. I know there is already a code in place but it is quite apparent that when crossing the cultural divide there are certain words that cannot be said, and this should be clarified. Hell, perhaps before the series captains can write out a list of banned naughty words! I also believe the hearing process needs to come under review - I'm an Australian, Symonds is my favourite player, but I feel that the decision of Mike Procter may have been erroneous - not necessarily because Harbhajan is innocent (I think he said it) but rather the evidence has come down to one teams word against another.

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  • Revnq on January 11, 2008, 2:16 GMT

    No, I don't think it should be banned, but there definitely needs to be an emphasis on what is and isn't acceptable. I know there is already a code in place but it is quite apparent that when crossing the cultural divide there are certain words that cannot be said, and this should be clarified. Hell, perhaps before the series captains can write out a list of banned naughty words! I also believe the hearing process needs to come under review - I'm an Australian, Symonds is my favourite player, but I feel that the decision of Mike Procter may have been erroneous - not necessarily because Harbhajan is innocent (I think he said it) but rather the evidence has come down to one teams word against another.

  • Revnq on January 11, 2008, 2:19 GMT

    My biggest concern lies with the attitude of the BCCI to racism in cricket. It is not acceptable that they state that they will not accept that an Indian cricketer can be racist, merely because he plays for India. Appeal the ruling, fine (which as mentioned seems a poor effort on behalf of the match referee), support Harbhajan in his pursuit of another hearing, but DON'T automatically assume that being a non-white cricketer precludes one from being a racist.

  • Justin on January 11, 2008, 2:20 GMT

    I'm not sure what it is about cricket that makes sledging (banter, trash-talking or whatever else you want to call it) worse than it seems to be in other sports. But, I agree completely, sledging in all forms needs to be banned. I'm not sure it will be though, especially with the attitude of some of the leading members of the Australian team. Ponting, Hayden, Symonds and Clarke... great cricketers, but what I wouldn't give for a cricket match with them all behaving like adults.

  • simpsons2170 on January 11, 2008, 3:04 GMT

    I think any comments that are said with a malicious intent should be banned in the international level. As we have seen in the Sydney test, it's easy to offend people from different cultures who perceive comments about parentage,ethnicity, etc. I think players who play international cricket should be aware of this and realize that the Indian policy of on-fied behavior, (which is generally, with some exceptions, tame and quiet) is different to that the Australians (talkative to say the least.

  • tgevans on January 11, 2008, 4:46 GMT

    If you taunt a batsman, you should expect the whirlwind. Even if it is wrong to say something that might be interpreted as racist, it is silly and immature to judge a person's character based on what they say under the pressure of batting. As for on-field etiquette, captains should reach agreement on where they draw the line. Match referees shouldn't be used as nannies.

  • abhisaha on January 11, 2008, 6:36 GMT

    Call me old-fashioned or foolish, but I still subscribe to the view that sledging - of all kinds - should be allowed. Much of the jingoism and message-board mudslinging happened after Bhajji was banned for three tests. If there was simply no provision for banning players for verbal abuse, We wouldn't have had this ugly extended controversy.

    In my book, sledging is a part of the game and players should be allowed to say whatever they wish as long as they don't get physical. And that includes racially motivated remarks. Test cricket is a contest for grown ups, not a stage for mollycoddling the thin-skinned. Cricketers who cannot deal with verbal attacks on the field should consider other careers.

  • Harinder_Jadwani on January 11, 2008, 6:40 GMT

    Yes. YES. YES.

    It is a shameful, disgraceful way to play the game---to disrupt the concentration of strong opponents who might otherwise win. This is what Australian cricketers do best, and a big factor in their dominance of world cricket in recent years. Actually it shows how frightened they are...to stoop to such low tactics. This is a potentially great game, and cricketing talent should be pitted against cricketing talent. Not sledging talent against cricketing talent.

    All forms of sledging - personal insults, profanity, comments - racist or not - should be banned. The idea that this will somehow stifle cricket is absolute RUBBISH.... the great West Indian team under Clive Lloyd never sledged anyone - they used bat and ball to make their case. The Aussies will never be respected like those West Indians...their sledging, refusing to walk, and claiming grounded catches are some of the most loathsome tactics employed in this game...and the game has suffered. SHUT UP AND PLAY...

  • sdhadwal on January 11, 2008, 6:43 GMT

    It should definitely be banned, in fact any word that is offensive to any person. If Australians think word 'bastard' should not hurt anybody then they should accept 'monkey' as non-abusive, not a racist word. ICC needs to sit back and amend its laws once again and better have representatives from all the countries playing cricket rather than just few test playing nations.

  • bogieman on January 11, 2008, 6:52 GMT

    Australia started the tradition of whining. Back in 1930 when the world's greatest batsmen including Bradman and Neil Harvey could not handle leg-side bowling tactics engineered by Douglas Jardine. And Aussies went so far as to threaten diplomatic relationships with Britain over cricket. Allan Border threatened to walk out of a Pakistan tour in 1989 when similarly crooked umpiring as witnessed in Sydney angered them. Of course they wanted to move out as Aussies were losing mostly due to umpiring. Infact when Dravid was given out I was stunned had never seen such a poor decision and I immediately switched off television, it was painful to watch 2 incompetent umpiring ruining a good test match. I knew then that India is going to lose.

  • vsssarma on January 11, 2008, 7:00 GMT

    Aussies are the worst in sledging. McGrath is certainly one of the worst players ever to play test match cricket, if you consider the number of bad words he used on the field against opponents. It was Ramnaresh Sarwan who could pay back to McGrath in the same coin he got. Ponting is one of the ugliest ambassadors of the game. He is extremely arrogant and his body language displays it. Is he a greater batsman than Bradman or a Neil Harvey or Greg Chappell ? No way. The way Aussies behave on the field brings bad name to their country and encourages the ultra-right racists in his country. Unfortunately, Australia has come to be known as a country where racism flourishes. It is amusing to see them as the crying babies or sissies to go to Mike Procter with a compliant.