December 4, 2013

Pump up the volume

It's time to turn the stump mikes all the way up, and leave them that way
32

Taking issue with a pair of sage judges of humankind like George Orwell and Mike Brearley might not be the wisest intellectual venture, but into the valley of the ridiculed here I come.

In his 1945 essay "The Sporting Spirit", Orwell decried the competitive arts as "war minus the shooting" (international sport, that is, not sport per se; his incandescent response to a UK football tour by Moscow Dynamo is so habitually misquoted). Given the quotidian deluge of pain inflicted in its name, not to mention the occasional death, "war minus the looting" might be nearer the mark. Or better yet, as the latest renewal of Ashes mania appears bent on reaffirming, "war plus the loathing".

More recently, this very week, Brearley wrote a typically astute article for the Times, lamenting the intolerably abrasive atmosphere of the Brisbane Test, observing that there was "a narrow line" between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. This struck me as being overly generous.

What distinguishes sport from every other branch of the entertainment industry is its relationship with its audience, enforcing as it does an acute awareness of its constant (and constantly annoying) dancing partner - sportsmanship. Nobody talks about actorship or poetship or dancership; musicianship and authorship relate, respectively, to craft and rights, not conduct. But what do we actually mean by sportsmanship? It certainly tells us something about its complexities that no feminist I know has ever demanded that we refer to sportspersonship, let alone sportswomanship.

It seems reasonable to define this slippery virtue, broadly, as the willingness, even determination, to a) win fairly, honestly and modestly, and b) lose gallantly, graciously and, almost needless to add, unintentionally. Liable as they are to be copied in playgrounds, backyards and parks, any antic that even smacks of cheating or disrespect sets the most erroneous of bad examples, primarily to the impressionable young millions who invest so much of their emotion in, and glean so much of their joy from, the curious world of ballgames.

Sure, the older and wiser we get, the more we understand the unique nature of athletic battle and its impact on even the coolest of tempers. On the other hand, sports watchers of all ages are resolutely intolerant of relatively trifling misdemeanours such as time-wasting, feigned injury or even a withheld handshake. And woe betide those perceived to be cowardly, whether in the form of a tackle shirked, a risk untaken or an opponent tongue-lashed. And rightly so.

That's why, even as we grow ever more inured to violent images, and admiring of murderous on-screen drug lords and mobsters, sledging still disturbs disproportionately - because it tells us the perpetrator has given up trying to prevail through skill. There's banter and there's sledging, of course, and it is to the spite-rich, wit-free latter that one takes exception. To many, the Brisbane Test was sickening, not because of the savagery of the bowling but the vile viciousness of the verbals. One of the odder things about the three-for-the-price-of-one product cricket has become is that the least frantic variety is the likeliest to arouse indefensible behaviour.

Before we get to the remedy, a dose of perspective seems in order. Amid the same Gabba gabfest that saw Messrs Anderson and Clarke reiterate how far cricketers are prepared to go - and always have been - in quest of an edge, the media ridicule meted out to Jonathan Trott was equally if not more offensive. How sobering, moreover, to open a magazine that weekend and snuggle up with cuddly Mike Tyson.

Interviewed, helpfully, by a woman with whom he clearly felt more comfortable not being Mr Macho, here was a champion whose brutality inside and outside the ring is now matched by a self-flagellating honesty that somehow arouses compassion if not pity. Call it a salutary reminder of sport's capacity to simultaneously thrill and disgust. Call it the hidden price of admission. Still, when it comes to ranking the meanest, baddest-assed sportsmen of them all, Iron Mike the Ear-Cruncher was a spayed pussycat next to Ty Cobb.

When Charlie Davis, that endlessly creative Australian statistician, devised a formula to calculate sporting greatness, he focused on one solo endeavour, golf, and four team games - baseball, basketball, cricket and soccer. Using average and standard deviation (σ), the top three emerged as Don Bradman (4.4 σ above the norm); Pelé, whose goals-per-game superiority over other net-bulgers was 3.7 σ; and Cobb, the early 20th century diamond dazzler whose batting average soared 3.6 σ above the baseball mean. But while the Australian and the Brazilian played sport, the American, like Tyson, warred it.

Denied the release of physical contact, it was inevitable that a cricketer should coin as dastardly a term as "mental disintegration"

"A red-blooded sport for red-blooded men" was how the perpetually snarly Detroit Tiger described his calling. Professional baseball, he insisted, was "something like a war". In acknowledging that the summit of his own profession was "pretty much a war", Alastair Cook at least had the grace to sound a teeny bit bashful.

Cobb was the ultimate ballplayer-warrior: think Steve Waugh, now multiply by a smidge under infinity. Here was a fellow who brazenly and showily sharpened the spikes on his boots, intimidating opponents and making fielders think twice about blocking his ferocious spurts down the baseline. In 1912, he assaulted a one-armed spectator who'd had the temerity to call him a "half-nigger". An enthusiastic racist, he packed a gun wherever he went; he was also reported to have pistol-whipped a man to death. And yes, he was also a mightily accomplished sledger.

The publicity tagline for Ron Shelton's admirably unmanipulative biopic Cobb was perfect: "The Man You Love To Hate". While no cricketer I can think of has ever warranted such a billing, personally speaking, the one who came closest was Matthew Hayden, whose incessant references to his devout Christianity were contradicted so expertly and shamelessly by those crude and cruel on-field tirades.

Sledging is as fertile a field for baseballers as it is for cricketers, because they, too, go about their labours at a leisurely pace; Tom Boswell, the revered Washington Post baseball correspondent, once described his job as "pondering inaction". Sledging seems so unnecessary. After all, another of the many characteristics the two games share is the extent to which they stack the odds. At any given moment, either nine or 11 men are ganging up on one, the avowed aim to negate, nullify and, ideally, exterminate.

Whereas baseball encourages physical contact and even indulges brawls, its more sedate brother from another mother is a subtler beast, albeit no gentler. What it most assuredly is not, has never been, is a game for gentlemen. Officially, that word itself denotes English peerage's lowest rank - below 80-odd others, even Master in Lunacy. When one's place in the pecking order is so insignificant, it is nothing if not pragmatic to be respectful, courteous, well-mannered and occasionally even honourable.

Denied the release of physical contact, it was inevitable that a cricketer should coin as dastardly a term as "mental disintegration". Whether it's Fred Trueman bullying a cowering Cambridge undergraduate, Dennis Lillee and Javed Miandad exchanging goads, Glenn McGrath spewing bile at Ramnaresh Sarwan or Merv Hughes foul-mouthing Graeme Hick, when it comes to rubbishing the game's reputation for civility the exhibits are largely verbal.

Trash-talking is all very well for boxers and those muscular clowns who have made WWE our least credible form of athletic competition. Is it naïve to expect ballplayers to rise above the sort of gratuitous personal abuse that would be stamped on in any other socially conscious workplace? Yes. Are we surprised that Darren Lehmann all but laughed off the suggestion of a "sledging summit"? Definitely not. Transgressors should therefore be pilloried as loudly as possible.

The name of the game must be shame. Shame the sledgers. Shame the needlers and the ranters. Shame the cowards. And the best way to achieve this noble end is not only to keep those stump mics on permanent duty but pump up the volume. Censorship is as pointless as it is dishonest. Why should the guilty be protected? Why shouldn't the audience, spectators as well as viewers, hear every sling and arrow of outrageous verbiage, preferably in Led Zeppelin-esque, Dolby-clarified, Marshall-amplified, 5.1 Surround Sound? They are part of the show. If turning the dial all the way up to 11 encourages wit, splendid. If it exposes nastiness and callousness, even better.

According to international protocol, of course, this ought to be a non-starter rather than a no-brainer. Still, judging by SABC's freewheeling deployment of the stump mic during last week's ODI against Pakistan in Port Elizabeth, let alone the 2006 Durban and Cape Town Tests, which saw Tony Greig and Mike Hussey take bilious exception to such eavesdropping, this doesn't seem to bother the state broadcaster unduly. Regrettably, I cannot report precisely what choice words the fielders selected after Quinton de Kock had given Junaid Khan a gentle shove for invading his space; my command of Urdu, shamefully, is on a par with Shane Warne's acumen in the shrinking-violet department.

Such is the precarious mutual dependence between sport and its most industrious sponsor, the reality is that behaviour will only be improved by stealth. Someday soon, a stump mic will be "accidentally" cranked up, not merely at a heated moment but for an entire day. Technical gremlins will be blamed. Innocence will be asserted. Apologies will be tendered. But the damage, with luck, will have been done. If there really is such a thing as the spirit of cricket - or even The Spirit of Cricket - I can't think of a better way to define what it isn't.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • CustomKid on December 6, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    Just give viewers the option of pay per view where there is no commentary only the stump mike. I'd sub in a heart beat.

  • Brownly on December 5, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    This is a ridiculous idea. For one, it wouldn't stop the professionals from doing it, which would mean thousands of televisions would be turned off because the family is in the room. Secondly, anyone who has played cricket at any competitive level knows that sledging happens on a cricket field, whether it be the international stadium or the local park. I play on a team of walkers and non-sledgers, handshakers and congratulators, but even though we play our cricket this way it doesn't stop us taking guard in the middle and being prepared for a verbal onslaught from the opposition. It happens.

  • Mel-waas on December 5, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Good Idea let the crowd listen to whats being said in the field. It will turn a cricket pitch into a Theater stage.

  • on December 5, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    The broadcaster should hire someone to do a real time Twitter feed in lieu of sound, paraphrasing to suit a family audience. Consider the Brisbane test; Clarke to Anderson: I'm concerned with your safety against this bowler Jimmy. Bailey: So am I. Or, great sledges from the past. S Waugh to Ambrose 1995: What in particular are you staring at? Ambrose: I find your bold question confronting. This idea could be a lot of fun.

  • srikanth.v on December 4, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    Solution: Have 2 mics - one for TV and other one maxed up for the umpires and other officials. This will also reduce umpiring errors when the crowd is at it's peak decibel level (considering sophisticated noise filters are already embedded). This will stop sledging (which is fine in moderation) from graduating to insult.

  • PFEL on December 4, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    Is this serious or a joke? This is the worst idea ever.

  • on December 4, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    It'd be interesting to see what happens when batsmen refuse to take guard until the chirping stops. It's nuisance to begin with and seems to be more prominent during AUS-ENG, AUS-RSA, and IND-PAK games. It also reflects a desperation to win at all costs.

  • HARCOURT_CUMBERBACH on December 4, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    What a shameless bunch of hypocrites we have become!! It seems sledging only becomes an issue when we are on the wrong side of it. The antipodeans learned the craft from ourselves, Trueman, Snow, Botham and now we bleat like spoiled children "Mummy the naughty man is using rude words"! All professional sport is built on the cornerstone of mental toughness, and the testing of that resolve happens in all sports. I suggest those squeamish readers perhaps restrict their sport to Synchronized swimming, chess and flower arranging.

  • Venkat_Gowrishankar on December 4, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    Yes this would mean, Cricket - Rated "R" , Children under the age of 18 please stay away. I guess turning on the volume is a bad idea.

  • BRUTALANALYST on December 4, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    Agree 100% it would be so much more entertaining also when players know the mics are on it will stop over the top swearing and personal attacks so will be more comedic based it's win win for everyone.

  • CustomKid on December 6, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    Just give viewers the option of pay per view where there is no commentary only the stump mike. I'd sub in a heart beat.

  • Brownly on December 5, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    This is a ridiculous idea. For one, it wouldn't stop the professionals from doing it, which would mean thousands of televisions would be turned off because the family is in the room. Secondly, anyone who has played cricket at any competitive level knows that sledging happens on a cricket field, whether it be the international stadium or the local park. I play on a team of walkers and non-sledgers, handshakers and congratulators, but even though we play our cricket this way it doesn't stop us taking guard in the middle and being prepared for a verbal onslaught from the opposition. It happens.

  • Mel-waas on December 5, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Good Idea let the crowd listen to whats being said in the field. It will turn a cricket pitch into a Theater stage.

  • on December 5, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    The broadcaster should hire someone to do a real time Twitter feed in lieu of sound, paraphrasing to suit a family audience. Consider the Brisbane test; Clarke to Anderson: I'm concerned with your safety against this bowler Jimmy. Bailey: So am I. Or, great sledges from the past. S Waugh to Ambrose 1995: What in particular are you staring at? Ambrose: I find your bold question confronting. This idea could be a lot of fun.

  • srikanth.v on December 4, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    Solution: Have 2 mics - one for TV and other one maxed up for the umpires and other officials. This will also reduce umpiring errors when the crowd is at it's peak decibel level (considering sophisticated noise filters are already embedded). This will stop sledging (which is fine in moderation) from graduating to insult.

  • PFEL on December 4, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    Is this serious or a joke? This is the worst idea ever.

  • on December 4, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    It'd be interesting to see what happens when batsmen refuse to take guard until the chirping stops. It's nuisance to begin with and seems to be more prominent during AUS-ENG, AUS-RSA, and IND-PAK games. It also reflects a desperation to win at all costs.

  • HARCOURT_CUMBERBACH on December 4, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    What a shameless bunch of hypocrites we have become!! It seems sledging only becomes an issue when we are on the wrong side of it. The antipodeans learned the craft from ourselves, Trueman, Snow, Botham and now we bleat like spoiled children "Mummy the naughty man is using rude words"! All professional sport is built on the cornerstone of mental toughness, and the testing of that resolve happens in all sports. I suggest those squeamish readers perhaps restrict their sport to Synchronized swimming, chess and flower arranging.

  • Venkat_Gowrishankar on December 4, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    Yes this would mean, Cricket - Rated "R" , Children under the age of 18 please stay away. I guess turning on the volume is a bad idea.

  • BRUTALANALYST on December 4, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    Agree 100% it would be so much more entertaining also when players know the mics are on it will stop over the top swearing and personal attacks so will be more comedic based it's win win for everyone.

  • on December 4, 2013, 18:46 GMT

    I'm all for keeping the mics recording all the time, so the umpires/referee have proof of what was said in case they need to take action later - but please don't have them relaying what's said live. It's not so much the sledging, but the inane chatter which wicketkeepers apparently feel compelled to keep up between balls - being forced to listen to them exclaim "Booooooowliiiiiing, [insert nickname]!" after every single ball would be enough to turn away both live spectators and TV viewers.

  • Green_and_Gold on December 4, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    Glad to see so much support for keeping the mics off - a few snippets or sound bites relating to the game is okay but listening to what they are saying all the time is going too far. Let the players play and speak without consequence of the media (and it will be the media who crucify them to get ratings!).

  • johnathonjosephs on December 4, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    I personally would love to hear what is said on the field. Would make it a lot more interesting to hear the mind games that are being played as well as the cricket. The sad part is that it is impractical. It would have to get a rating of Mature Audiences due to curse words and such.

  • GH13 on December 4, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    I could not disagree more with this article. Players from both sides have said that sledging is an integral part of the game and that they would not want it any other way. It is meant to be tough on the field - I'm sure many people would think that taking this part of the game away would diminish the contest. The off field comments made during the first test were not acceptable but what happens on the field is between the players and none of our business.

  • vmaxjude on December 4, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    An excellent article, immaculately written. I am in complete agreement. I just do not understand the need for personal abuse devoid of wit. There have fortunately been some very witty responses to Australian abuse over the years (Eddo Brandes' biscuit comment to Glenn McGrath springs to mind, an absolute classic), but England players are also culprits and it is therefore hard for us to take the moral high ground. Jimmy Anderson is a brilliant bowler and not short of intelligence. He just does not need to demean himself. The West Indian quicks of yesteryear never felt the need to resort to it. They didn't need to. Cricket does not need to lower itself to the level of football, a sport that now sickens me so much I no longer watch it.

  • ToeCruncher on December 4, 2013, 13:31 GMT

    I follow the beer rule: You can say what you want to the other bloke / lady, so long as you can still have a beer with them after. If you cant have a beer after, then it is going too far. If you can, then say it, have the beer, and laugh about it.

  • StaalBurgher on December 4, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Rubbish. Keep the mics off and let sportsmen fight it out. The umpire is there to keep the sledging within reason. If you try and stamp it out completely what is going to happen is to inoffensive, witty part of sledging (that at this point is deemed acceptable) will become the worst and will in turn cause outrage. This has only one ending, no talking whatsoever. No banter, nothing. What a sad day that would be. Let us censor everything and everyone so that no poor little violet will have its feelings hurt. KEEP THE MICS OFF.

  • Henry_Kane on December 4, 2013, 12:19 GMT

    "One of the odder things about the three-for-the-price-of-one product cricket has become is that the least frantic variety is the likeliest to arouse indefensible behaviour." Not really true. Physical confrontation or contact is far more reprehensible in cricket, and there have been striking examples of that in T20 above all. The name K. Powell springs to mind...

  • on December 4, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    As a matter of interest - when would it be the right time to tell our young sons,who love the game of cricket and see the top cricketers in the world as their idols,to use the language that Clarke said to Anderson ?When will Clarke tell his own son to use this type of language on the field of play ?In grade one,senior school,playing for the u 19 side of your country or only when you are grown up ?Is this not where the crux of the matter lies or have our morals and integrity become so askewed, with the winning factor becoming so important,that everything goes ?I played a lot of sport at provincial level many years ago and i also recall a fair bit of comments flying around - in most cases,it was good natured and in many cases it was very funny indeed - chirps like '' this guy has a vegetarian bat ,it has no meat in it '' after the 6 th ball he could,nt get of the square ,was one of the better ones which i still remember and cherish today.It was fun and had it,s place and it also worked!

  • The_Swing_Bowler on December 4, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    And while you are at it let's have a camera in the players room before and after play and during breaks, and why not have a crew follow them at training, at team meetings, out to dinner, etc. Then we can turn it into a reality TV show instead of a sporting contest.

    Fair dinkum, what happens on the field stays on the field and it's nobody's business but the players who are out there. If you want to know what is said then I suggest you strap on some pads, hit the nets, crank up the bowling machine to 160 kph and start practicing to try and make the team yourself. Otherwise just let them play their game - they are under enough scrutiny as it is.

  • on December 4, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    Why not record everything said during matches, but not broadcast then, but at end of year have a xmas soecial. A tv show called worlds funniest sledging much like funniest home videos. Then put a later show on for the adults and call it Cricket World's biggest tossers. Be interesting to see which players get the most viewings and shamed the most.

  • Marktc on December 4, 2013, 9:42 GMT

    In an ideal world it would be perfect to sports people t play their trade without the verbals. But, they are but mortals and aggression and tactics is always a plus for any team. From the public side, we are entitled to hear what is going on int he field of play. The dressing room is their private space, the field is public space. It could be good for the game, attracting new fans and toning down ugly comments.

  • YorkshirePudding on December 4, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    Personally speaking I really dont care what is said on the field, most of it falls in to the banal, and would probably never be broadcast.

    The umpires need to take more control of the situation in the middle, its not as if they dont hear what is said, and step in telling the players to cool it when it starts to get out of hand. Its a shame that there isnt a Sin-bin offence like they have in Rugby, where by a player who is continually being warned is not able to be sent off.

    The problem comes when there are a mixture of languages on the field, is it insulting when someone doesnt understand what is being said, or in the case of Africaans, understood by a player like KP but not by the umpire.

  • Nutcutlet on December 4, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    Yep, turn the stump mic up. Those of us that keep vigil through (most of) the long nights are entitled to know something of the wit & wisdom coming from the mouths of the players whose doings seem to have a mesmeric hold on us. Let them be known as men. There is no mic in the changing room & quite right too. All sportsmen are entitled to their space even as the battle rages on the field, but when they cross the line, they are on public view. We, the audiences, far or near, are entitled to know them by their conduct as much as by their play. We've paid for it all, in HD.

  • MalcolmX on December 4, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Terrific article, right on the nail. I can only think that the players don't want what they say on the pitch available publicly because they are ashamed of what they say. No civilised person could carry on as some did in Brisbane and then look another civilised person in the eye. I might be naiive but I am also a mug punter (a right mug it seems) who was at the test in Brisbane and will be in Melbourne on Boxing Day. But I don't like shelling out my hard-earned to see talented sportsmen behave in a morally bereft way. Turn up the mikes and discipline any player who tries to do a spot of on-air advertising. Then let's see if the players can behave.

  • heavy_cav_1066 on December 4, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    ah yes.. if all men were angels, no government would be necessary. excellent idea to keep the stump mics turned up all the time, but as the aussie examples demonstrate, it won't be easy to get the players to go along with it. on the other hand, that sort of attempt to get the mics turned back down can be dealt with by the match referee, can't it?

  • switchmitch on December 4, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    No. Actually it is time to zip up every player's mouth on the cricket field and leave it at that. Enough with this sledging and "mental disintegration" nonsense. This is a professional sport and the players are expected to maintain professionalism at all times. All this talk about showing aggression/passion by running loose with the mouth is utter nonsense. Look at Amla, Dravid and their ilk. They never talk but are the most aggressive and passionate cricketers around. That's how the game should be played.

  • mudders on December 4, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    It would certainly be entertaining but will never happen. During the 2006 Aus tour of South Africa the stump mikes were turned up and the Aussies responded by plugging their sponsors' products, which resulted in them being turned back down.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on December 4, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    It'd be great, but obviously if the players were aware it would become a lot more politically correct out there. At least until someone snapped from having to hold it in, and then it would undoubtedly be incredibly entertaining as well as reputation ruining. Would be interesting to see who broke, test cricket is a much longer game than anything else, by a fair margin.

  • ambsmams on December 4, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    Absolutely brilliant. Couldn't agree more! I have never "seen" M S Dhoni mouthing anything - whatever be the state of the match or the provocation. And he is leading 1.2 billion people who are avid critics of every ball, shot, catch or any slip in between. At best we are given to see some expression on his face. I firmly believe that along with the WI players, MSD is the best ambassador of the game of cricket - as of now.

  • derpherp on December 4, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Something similar to this has been tried before and failed, simply because the players don't want it. During the 2006 Australian tour to Bangladesh, the players were told before the match that the stump mikes would be kept on the entire match and turned up to an audible level. This resulted in several Australian players, most notably Adam Gilchrist (as he was the keeper) to start yelling out in between deliveries brands of companies and giving out "free sponsorship" Such examples included "Come on Brett (Lee) bowl this one for Milo energy bars!" Funny yes, but this resulted in the broadcaster having to turn the mikes down again.

  • on December 4, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    A nice idea. I've thought about this myself (albeit from a purely entertainment, rather than a shame the 'transgressors' perspective). The obvious problem with this though is that cricket is still broadcast to almost totally to pre watershed TV audiences. The language used on the field is mostly not broadcastable within the current status quo of where and when it is shown....Shame.

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  • on December 4, 2013, 4:06 GMT

    A nice idea. I've thought about this myself (albeit from a purely entertainment, rather than a shame the 'transgressors' perspective). The obvious problem with this though is that cricket is still broadcast to almost totally to pre watershed TV audiences. The language used on the field is mostly not broadcastable within the current status quo of where and when it is shown....Shame.

  • derpherp on December 4, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Something similar to this has been tried before and failed, simply because the players don't want it. During the 2006 Australian tour to Bangladesh, the players were told before the match that the stump mikes would be kept on the entire match and turned up to an audible level. This resulted in several Australian players, most notably Adam Gilchrist (as he was the keeper) to start yelling out in between deliveries brands of companies and giving out "free sponsorship" Such examples included "Come on Brett (Lee) bowl this one for Milo energy bars!" Funny yes, but this resulted in the broadcaster having to turn the mikes down again.

  • ambsmams on December 4, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    Absolutely brilliant. Couldn't agree more! I have never "seen" M S Dhoni mouthing anything - whatever be the state of the match or the provocation. And he is leading 1.2 billion people who are avid critics of every ball, shot, catch or any slip in between. At best we are given to see some expression on his face. I firmly believe that along with the WI players, MSD is the best ambassador of the game of cricket - as of now.

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on December 4, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    It'd be great, but obviously if the players were aware it would become a lot more politically correct out there. At least until someone snapped from having to hold it in, and then it would undoubtedly be incredibly entertaining as well as reputation ruining. Would be interesting to see who broke, test cricket is a much longer game than anything else, by a fair margin.

  • mudders on December 4, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    It would certainly be entertaining but will never happen. During the 2006 Aus tour of South Africa the stump mikes were turned up and the Aussies responded by plugging their sponsors' products, which resulted in them being turned back down.

  • switchmitch on December 4, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    No. Actually it is time to zip up every player's mouth on the cricket field and leave it at that. Enough with this sledging and "mental disintegration" nonsense. This is a professional sport and the players are expected to maintain professionalism at all times. All this talk about showing aggression/passion by running loose with the mouth is utter nonsense. Look at Amla, Dravid and their ilk. They never talk but are the most aggressive and passionate cricketers around. That's how the game should be played.

  • heavy_cav_1066 on December 4, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    ah yes.. if all men were angels, no government would be necessary. excellent idea to keep the stump mics turned up all the time, but as the aussie examples demonstrate, it won't be easy to get the players to go along with it. on the other hand, that sort of attempt to get the mics turned back down can be dealt with by the match referee, can't it?

  • MalcolmX on December 4, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Terrific article, right on the nail. I can only think that the players don't want what they say on the pitch available publicly because they are ashamed of what they say. No civilised person could carry on as some did in Brisbane and then look another civilised person in the eye. I might be naiive but I am also a mug punter (a right mug it seems) who was at the test in Brisbane and will be in Melbourne on Boxing Day. But I don't like shelling out my hard-earned to see talented sportsmen behave in a morally bereft way. Turn up the mikes and discipline any player who tries to do a spot of on-air advertising. Then let's see if the players can behave.

  • Nutcutlet on December 4, 2013, 7:53 GMT

    Yep, turn the stump mic up. Those of us that keep vigil through (most of) the long nights are entitled to know something of the wit & wisdom coming from the mouths of the players whose doings seem to have a mesmeric hold on us. Let them be known as men. There is no mic in the changing room & quite right too. All sportsmen are entitled to their space even as the battle rages on the field, but when they cross the line, they are on public view. We, the audiences, far or near, are entitled to know them by their conduct as much as by their play. We've paid for it all, in HD.

  • YorkshirePudding on December 4, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    Personally speaking I really dont care what is said on the field, most of it falls in to the banal, and would probably never be broadcast.

    The umpires need to take more control of the situation in the middle, its not as if they dont hear what is said, and step in telling the players to cool it when it starts to get out of hand. Its a shame that there isnt a Sin-bin offence like they have in Rugby, where by a player who is continually being warned is not able to be sent off.

    The problem comes when there are a mixture of languages on the field, is it insulting when someone doesnt understand what is being said, or in the case of Africaans, understood by a player like KP but not by the umpire.