January 1, 2014

Sledging's inevitable? That's just silly

The idea that trash talk is a by-product of competitiveness, and essential to spice up a contest, is laughable
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The marketers would have us think that the public loves scenes like this
The marketers would have us think that the public loves scenes like this © Getty Images

At a recent social event I bumped into a fast bowler who I'd played against many times. It was the first time I'd seen him since my retirement, and at first I couldn't work out what was odd about the conversation. He seemed sheepish, unable to look me in the eye, embarrassed about something. But what? As he was still playing the game professionally, I tried to draw him out about how things were going. "As you'll remember," he eventually replied, nervously, "I'm an idiot on the pitch, but I'm working on that these days." The point, however, is that I didn't remember. I had completely forgotten that he had sledged quite a bit. He'd remembered, I'd forgotten.

We should recast the debate about sledging. It is not about the sledged or so-called "victim", who is usually completely unaffected. It concerns the values and standards of the sledger. How does he want to live his life? It was the boxer Floyd Patterson, I think, who said that "trash talk" (as boxers call sledging) is easy - the hard thing for lippy fighters was accidentally bumping into an opponent with his wife and kids at the airport.

The fourth Test, in Melbourne, was not an especially fractious affair, though it had the occasional silly moment. So this column is not specifically about the last Test, nor even targeted only at this Ashes series. Instead, I want to expose some of the myths that threaten to undermine the sport we all love. It is time to ask a simple question: who are the real victims of sledging?

There is a nasty little theory going around that Michael Clarke and his Australians have "toughened up" this series and that their improved performance is somehow bound up with this hardening of their external behaviour. Thus the diplomatic, pointedly courteous Clarke who led Australia to defeat in the English summer is reincarnated as an Aussie battler with a sharp tongue and a nasty streak in the victorious campaign of 2013-14. It is a seductive theory, just the kind of easy, populist history that displaces complex truths with simplistic myths.

I see the causal chain working in the opposite direction. It is not sledging that leads to winning, it is winning that leads to sledging. Ironically, that makes it worse. Far from being an explanation of success, it is simply a failure of grace and dignity. Far from being a subtle strategic art, sledging is just an embarrassing version of playground bullying. The people with the real problems are the players who lose their dignity. Within education, in schools suffering outbreaks of bullying, improved behaviour often follows from asking the bullies themselves how they can be helped to get over their evident psychological problems. The focus, quite rightly, is on their inadequacies.

England, apparently, had quite a bit to say for themselves during their 3-0 victory. Now Australia have relished an opportunity to talk down to England while they have been playing above them. What guts, what bravery! To swear at opponents when they can't get a run or a wicket!

There is a lot of selective history about "toughness" and superficial behaviour. The fact that Allan Border's Australia lost in 1985 and won in 1989 is often framed by reference to his famous quote, "I'm sick of being seen as a good bloke and losing. I'd rather be a prick and win." But in terms of explaining the crucial improvements in 1989, I would look first at the 41 wickets of Terry Alderman and the 1345 runs that came from the bats of Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor.

The way sportsmen perform is determined by the complex interaction of skill, talent, resilience and context. The way they behave is simply a personal choice. And many of the greatest players, in all sports, have chosen to behave very well. Garry Sobers, Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid did not sledge the bowlers they dismantled, any more than Michael Holding sledged the batsmen he terrorised. There is scarcely a scrap of critical evidence to pin against the behaviour of Rod Laver, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the tennis court.

Nadal is arguably the toughest competitor, both mentally and physically, in any sport in the world. Toughness, of course, is playing at the limit of your capacity as often as possible. Yet nothing could be more ridiculous than the idea that Nadal would become tougher by unleashing a stream of abuse at Andy Murray just before the start of a match. And yet that is exactly the presumption of people who believe in a correlation between sledging and toughness.

Which leads me to another of cricket's self-destructive myths: that demeaning behaviour is inevitable, that it is the logical result of "market forces" and "the pressures of modern professional sport". Not true. Last January, I met up with Brad Drewett, then chief executive of the ATP, at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Drewett was dying from motor neurone disease, and the meeting had the poignant subtext that it was likely to be the first and last time we would meet.

Drewett described how the impressive culture at the top of men's tennis today is unrecognisable from his own time as a player in the 1980s. Back then, flashy rivalries degenerated into personal contemptuousness and many big guns treated the junior players with dismissive disdain. With the tantrums and outbursts of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, tennis was indulging the idea that "nice guys finish last".

"Roger Federer helped to change all that," Drewett explained, "and Rafael Nadal fitted in with the standards he set. After them, everyone had to follow their example."

Far from being a subtle strategic art, sledging is just an embarrassing version of playground bullying. The people with the real problems are the players who lose their dignity

Following the trajectory of the 1980s, tennis today ought to be an uninterrupted expletive-ridden tantrum. But it hasn't happened. Quite the reverse. A few good men radically altered the course of a whole sport. They changed the image of being a winner. They enhanced the expectations that follow from being a champion. And they will pass on to the next generation a sport in better health than the fractious environment they inherited. Alongside all their other achievements, Federer and Nadal disproved one of the silliest myths of professional sport: that there is some competitive disadvantage in being a decent person. In doing so, they demonstrated a truth rarely acknowledged: cultures are always in flux; they can improve as well as decline.

This fact has eluded not just cricketers but also broadcasters, and worst of all, even administrators. Pundits routinely opine that undignified behavior "adds spice to the contest" and "makes the sport dramatic to the viewer". Has anyone asked the public? The reply follows: "But look at the huge crowds at the MCG and encouraging TV viewing figures. Our brand strategy must be working!"

Well, a few new people with low attention spans are temporarily attracted to vulgarity, just as drivers slow down to look at car crashes on the other side of the road. But for the silent majority, cricket's past and cricket's future, the sport is not enhanced by macho posturing, it is demeaned by it.

The brand experts are mostly quack salesmen who know nothing at all about real brand value. Indeed, the phony profession of brand marketing is only a few decades old. In contrast, real brands - such as the Ashes, for example - have been around a lot longer than the whole concept of "branding".

Anyone who really understands brands - whether it is a business, a reputation or a family name - knows that they are very hard to build but all too easy to destroy. By legitimising playground bullying - indeed celebrating it - cricket believes it is winning some subliminal battle for relevance, for modernity, for a share of the sporting market.

I am not a brand expert, but I have a sense for how sports grow and evolve. And how they can decay and wither. Lowering behavioural expectations will not heighten interest in cricket, not over the long term. Only good cricket can do that.

Ed Smith's latest book is Luck - A Fresh Look at Fortune. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 22:40 GMT

    Good insights, Ed. Before Federer, however, look to the example of Pete Sampras, another gentleman on the court who won loads of Grand Slams, and who helped diminish the assessment of Americans as ugly competitors who could not behave properly. And perhaps one shouldn't forget Ilie Nastase, who predated Connors and McEnroe for his shenanigans. Regarding cricketers, it is very useful to point out to many of today's Aussie and English players how champions of years gone by conducted themselves without the need for trash talk (a much better term, perhaps, than sledging!).

    What if umpires gave 5 run penalties for violations (eg foul language?)....Hmm.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | January 2, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    Doing some research on sledging I came across a few notable examples of witty sledges, and wittier replies:

    As Botham takes guard, Marsh welcomes him with the words: "So how's your wife and my kids?"

    Mike Atherton angered Ian Healy after he was given not-out after edging the ball. "You're a (expletive) cheat," Healy said. Atherton replied "When in Rome, dear boy".

    Malcolm Marshall spoke to David Boon after he played and missed: "Now David, are you going to get out now or am I going to have to bowl around the wicket and kill you?"

    James Ormond comes in & is greeted by Mark Waugh: "Mate, what are you doing out here, there's no way you're good enough to play for England." Ormond replied: "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best in my family."

    McGrath bowling to Zimbabwean Eddo Brandes gets frustrated at Brandes playing and missing, walks down the pitch and says: "Why are you so fat?" Brandes replies "Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit."

  • POSTED BY bddm on | January 2, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    Very appropriate article - sledging ruins what used to be a gentleman's game once upon a time

  • POSTED BY cricketcritic on | January 2, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    @ insult 2 injury - I am not anti sledging, I'm just anti the depths that have been plumbed recently. I have seen Kallis in a few verbal battles, I just don't ever remember compromising his dignity

  • POSTED BY shanks1967 on | January 2, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Nice pointed article. I think it is more of the adrenaline pumping through the system that different people let out differently. But like you have pointed there are numerous gentlemen who have graced this game. I think people should try and emulate the good rather than the bad and the ugly. Have celebrations but acknowledge that this is just a game and not life and death. I remember Gundappa Vishwanath recalling Taylor who was given out in the Golden Jublee test against England in Mumbai and England went on to win. I dont think Sachin even looked/stared back at the bowler. As for the worst example of batsmen sledging was quarter final in WC at Bangalore by Aamir Sohail, who got his off stump uprooted and in a rare moment, the Calm Venkatesh Prasad let out some expletives which I am sure he would be feeling sorry today about. But to be candid Sledging or verbal barrage should stop.

  • POSTED BY rickyvoncanterbury on | January 2, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    Now... I will complain about sledging by sledging... now that's silly.... but inevitable.

  • POSTED BY whofriggincares on | January 2, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    @gevelVis, of course I realize that post made me sound nasty! It was designed to convey my distaste at the content in another post. I guess in most social settings attacking someone's intelligence based on their ability to spell would also be considered as a nasty thing to do, do you realize that? Hope I spelled your name right. Are you a schoolteacher by any chance?

  • POSTED BY Fauzer on | January 2, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    Top article Ed, it takes a clear mind see through the muddy narrative that's been created. Thank you for standing up against the populist bandwagon. You very correctly point out, it's more about the personality and self worth of a sledger than anything else.

  • POSTED BY Insult_2_Injury on | January 2, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    cricketcritic - Interesting you mention Jacques Kallis and his lack of sledging. Only a few days ago at the end of his career he discussed why he thought sledging SHOULD still exist in the game. While he may not have been a noted sledger, he wasn't as precious about it as Ed Smith and the English seem to be. But, just like Ed Smith, it is just his opinion.

  • POSTED BY rickyvoncanterbury on | January 2, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    All this Aussie sledging is water off a ducks back to me.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 22:40 GMT

    Good insights, Ed. Before Federer, however, look to the example of Pete Sampras, another gentleman on the court who won loads of Grand Slams, and who helped diminish the assessment of Americans as ugly competitors who could not behave properly. And perhaps one shouldn't forget Ilie Nastase, who predated Connors and McEnroe for his shenanigans. Regarding cricketers, it is very useful to point out to many of today's Aussie and English players how champions of years gone by conducted themselves without the need for trash talk (a much better term, perhaps, than sledging!).

    What if umpires gave 5 run penalties for violations (eg foul language?)....Hmm.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | January 2, 2014, 17:08 GMT

    Doing some research on sledging I came across a few notable examples of witty sledges, and wittier replies:

    As Botham takes guard, Marsh welcomes him with the words: "So how's your wife and my kids?"

    Mike Atherton angered Ian Healy after he was given not-out after edging the ball. "You're a (expletive) cheat," Healy said. Atherton replied "When in Rome, dear boy".

    Malcolm Marshall spoke to David Boon after he played and missed: "Now David, are you going to get out now or am I going to have to bowl around the wicket and kill you?"

    James Ormond comes in & is greeted by Mark Waugh: "Mate, what are you doing out here, there's no way you're good enough to play for England." Ormond replied: "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best in my family."

    McGrath bowling to Zimbabwean Eddo Brandes gets frustrated at Brandes playing and missing, walks down the pitch and says: "Why are you so fat?" Brandes replies "Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit."

  • POSTED BY bddm on | January 2, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    Very appropriate article - sledging ruins what used to be a gentleman's game once upon a time

  • POSTED BY cricketcritic on | January 2, 2014, 8:16 GMT

    @ insult 2 injury - I am not anti sledging, I'm just anti the depths that have been plumbed recently. I have seen Kallis in a few verbal battles, I just don't ever remember compromising his dignity

  • POSTED BY shanks1967 on | January 2, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    Nice pointed article. I think it is more of the adrenaline pumping through the system that different people let out differently. But like you have pointed there are numerous gentlemen who have graced this game. I think people should try and emulate the good rather than the bad and the ugly. Have celebrations but acknowledge that this is just a game and not life and death. I remember Gundappa Vishwanath recalling Taylor who was given out in the Golden Jublee test against England in Mumbai and England went on to win. I dont think Sachin even looked/stared back at the bowler. As for the worst example of batsmen sledging was quarter final in WC at Bangalore by Aamir Sohail, who got his off stump uprooted and in a rare moment, the Calm Venkatesh Prasad let out some expletives which I am sure he would be feeling sorry today about. But to be candid Sledging or verbal barrage should stop.

  • POSTED BY rickyvoncanterbury on | January 2, 2014, 6:22 GMT

    Now... I will complain about sledging by sledging... now that's silly.... but inevitable.

  • POSTED BY whofriggincares on | January 2, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    @gevelVis, of course I realize that post made me sound nasty! It was designed to convey my distaste at the content in another post. I guess in most social settings attacking someone's intelligence based on their ability to spell would also be considered as a nasty thing to do, do you realize that? Hope I spelled your name right. Are you a schoolteacher by any chance?

  • POSTED BY Fauzer on | January 2, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    Top article Ed, it takes a clear mind see through the muddy narrative that's been created. Thank you for standing up against the populist bandwagon. You very correctly point out, it's more about the personality and self worth of a sledger than anything else.

  • POSTED BY Insult_2_Injury on | January 2, 2014, 4:52 GMT

    cricketcritic - Interesting you mention Jacques Kallis and his lack of sledging. Only a few days ago at the end of his career he discussed why he thought sledging SHOULD still exist in the game. While he may not have been a noted sledger, he wasn't as precious about it as Ed Smith and the English seem to be. But, just like Ed Smith, it is just his opinion.

  • POSTED BY rickyvoncanterbury on | January 2, 2014, 4:40 GMT

    All this Aussie sledging is water off a ducks back to me.

  • POSTED BY cricketcritic on | January 2, 2014, 4:17 GMT

    Great article Ed, about time someone wrote it. There's any number of Australians who will tell you that sledging is synonymous with success in cricket, but of course evidence abounds of quality teams and players who never had to descend to the depths of Clarke, Warner & Co. One Jacques Kallis comes to mind, one of the best to grace the game, and I mean "grace". Something sorely missing from the current Australian side in particular. It does make me laugh how quickly Aussie pundits point at the English as equal proponents of graceless behaviour (laughable). Australia is world #1 in that category without a doubt.

  • POSTED BY Greatest_Game on | January 2, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    @ PrasPunter writes "... Is it a coincidence that there is lot of noise about sledging only when Aus wins?" and in the same vein @ wik8 offers "ah, sledging...beloved by fans and players, derided by pundits and reporters. a debate that only seems to arise when the australians are winning."

    No - the debate arises every time there is nasty viscous sledging. The coincidence that it arises when Aus is winning is because that is when their sledging becomes loudest. Bullies don't have much to say when they are losing, do they. The nasty sledging coincides with Australia winning, and not with Eng or ANY team losing.

    Aus were silent as India whitewashed them. (They had homework problems anyway!) As SA strangled them in Adelaide they quit sledging, & uttered but a whimper when put to the sword in Perth. Bullies only bellow when on top. Don't blame the Poms when the world takes notice of the excesses of Aus' bad behavior, because it only emerges with that cricketing rarity - an Aus win.

  • POSTED BY tinkertinker on | January 2, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    These stories would have been taken more seriously if they were also written when england were sledging their way to ashes wins.

    Anderson even boasted about how many wickets sledging brings him yet no stories emerged during that series about sledging.

    Sledging isn't an issue until the ausises start winning again, then it's suddenly serious stuff.

  • POSTED BY likecricket77 on | January 2, 2014, 2:36 GMT

    Good article. We have constantly heard of this so called line from the Aussies/English. Abuse all day and as soon as somebody responds, its too personal. Classic example is of Glenn McGrath copping it from Sarwan. There is no excuse for crude behavior in the guise of passion. I am sure none of these so called passionate people swear in front of their children or in the workplace. The only line is no line, zero tolerance. Everybody has their own line and need not toe the line drawn by someone else.

  • POSTED BY Bones87 on | January 2, 2014, 2:03 GMT

    I'll just to add a thought, people have different views on what sledging is. It's a very loose term. To some it's abuse, to some it's banter and they're totally different things. I'd like to think that level headed people are actually on the same page here - some banter is ok, abuse is not. So you sometimes get arguments about it when the people arguing actually agree with each other.

  • POSTED BY Bones87 on | January 2, 2014, 1:57 GMT

    There's a difference between banter and sledging, depending on your view but I consider sledging abuse, and banter to be a bit of a funny chat. Abuse should never be tolerated.. I don't think anyone defended England did they? In fact England started to ill feeling between the sides if we're honest about it, but you can take these things over a line.

    What's mentioned in one of the first posts "a keeper yelling out 'a wicket any minute now boys'" isn't anything, that's not sledging and nor is Mitch Johnson staring "at Joe Root menacingly". Hayden in the series against England where Flintoff had cough in the middle and he said 'time to give up the fags (smokes) Fred", that's just a bit of banter. Now, Michael Clarke walking up to a number 11 frightened to death with Johnson bowling speed of light saying, "get ready for a broken arm" (or whatever the direct quote was) is not ok, that's complete abuse.

  • POSTED BY Poly on | January 2, 2014, 0:31 GMT

    The biggest argument I hear from Australian cricketers at all levels is that sledging is part of the game...."we use it because we want to test the batsmen out psychologically and see if he can be put off his game." I don't agree with this...if a bowler can not get a batsman out with skill, planning and patience then he's weak. The author hasn't really tackled this reason in depth. I believe it is at the heart of the issue. Clarke was swearing at Anderson at the Gabba and then shaking his hand literally 5 minutes later when he got out and the test was over. Could he seriously look Anderson in the eye without being "awkward" because of his behaviour just shown. Not good enough. I can the Don turning!!

  • POSTED BY SRK666 on | January 2, 2014, 0:20 GMT

    @Bonehead_maz: It is illegal for the fielding side to distract the striker when they are preparing to face a delivery, and it is illegal to distract either batsman immediately after the delivery has been bowled, when they can attempt a run.

    Once the ball is dead, however, there are no laws against the fielding side talking to the batsmen (or vice versa).

  • POSTED BY Kernas on | January 2, 2014, 0:18 GMT

    The tennis analogy was particularly interesting. I have never understood tennis commentators (usually mates with or ex Davis Cup coaches / players) who continually defend Lleyton Hewitt's bad behavoiur on the basis that you have to be like that to succeed in tennis. Pat Rafter might have adifferent opinion but would be shouted down if he dared criticise Little Lleyton.

    The cricket commentators defend the sledging too much. Bring back the banter.

    Joe Root, the youngest player in the Ashes (without checking) seems unaffected. I don't know why they bother sledging some players except to make themselves feel important.

  • POSTED BY on | January 2, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    Anyone who thinks sledging is Australia's only is kidding themselves. Australians pride themselves on their competitiveness, verbal aggression is part of that. Part of our unbelievable success in cricket can be attributed to getting into the heads of the weak, and most unsuccessful English teams are proof of that. To express such a simplistic view of cricket is laughable. It is called a Test match for a reason. Jonathon Trott and Graeme Swann have vindicated the Aussie aggression. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! All the great Test teams, Windies, Australia, Sth. Africa all sledged and won test series after test series, no not by just skill. These sides have scared the opposition into submission. Ed, England needs to stand up and fight, not wave the white flag! Grow some cajones and this series might not be a whitewash.

  • POSTED BY pat_one_back on | January 1, 2014, 23:37 GMT

    An over the top assessment of where sledging is at in general, consideration needs to be given to the b2b nature of this ashes series and the impact this has had, these teams know each other a little too well and there are obvious signs of 'cabin fever'. The pace with which Aust have turned their fortunes (no pun intended) has meant direct recourse over the verbal assault received in Eng so recently, it's rare a team has opportunity to turn fortunes and bite back while scars are so fresh

  • POSTED BY Bishop on | January 1, 2014, 23:09 GMT

    Best article yet on this subject. I've always suspected sledging was totally ineffectual, and all it really did was lower the tone of the game, and make the sledger look like a bit of a pratt. However I've always liked a bit of banter, especially when it is tempered by humour. I have no problem with a bowler reminding a batsman that he is on a pair for example. The difficulty lies in the fact that there is no "line" between banter and sledging, there is just grey, and so we unfortunately rely on the morality of the players to keep to some sort of standard. I'm disappointed by some of the (inevitable) comments in support of thuggish behaviour, accompanied by an assumption that "because I enjoy it, therefore all fans enjoy it". Well watching our media over the New Years period, it seems some people enjoy waiting outside pubs looking to thump someone as well. Cricket is a game played for the enjoyment of the players, and the audience. Since when did winning become more important than that

  • POSTED BY rickyvoncanterbury on | January 1, 2014, 23:08 GMT

    When you see and hear all the legends of the game commentating, from India, Australia, South Africa etc etc from eras back 40 years till today, they talk about great times, games, performances, and personalities, they also sit there praising each other for being gods (the sledging must be forgotten by then) or is it only supporters and some players without the mental toughness to make playing for your country a career, that take it to heart.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | January 1, 2014, 21:36 GMT

    No less than eight current articles here about sledging. Not a single article during Australia's seven test losses in India and England. Is it any wonder Australia sledge when they only win when sledging? LOL, as they say.

    What fascinates me here is human psychology, and the way people attempt to compensate for the sense of inadequacy after being defeated by insisting that they are morally superior. "We got smashed, but at least we are better human beings!" This is why there is never a word about sledging when Australia lose, but an avalanche of protests when they win.

    You could tell England were doomed in this series after the team and English media's reaction after the first test. Way too much focus on how primitive Australians are. A petulant refusal by the team to speak to the media. Even now every second comment on English news sites is about how morally repugnant Australians are. It's a loser's mindset, the attitude of one obsessed with their victim status.

  • POSTED BY ScottStevo on | January 1, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    Another day, another English written article on sledging. It's rather amusing that their only salvation seems to be some perceived moral high ground.

  • POSTED BY Valdev on | January 1, 2014, 19:54 GMT

    Sledging should be banned. It is gentlemen's game and should be played as such. Recently concluded SA-IND matches was a treat to watch, hardly any sledging. For younger generation it is very tempting to learn sledging as it is easier to learn than the actual techniques of the game.

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | January 1, 2014, 19:25 GMT

    @tropicpleasure - so that is your great theory on reason for 'Aussie domination in cricket' ? , how about the fact that they had some of the best talents that ever came together in a cricket team , i mean someone like Michael hussey had to wait until his 30's to get into the team , 16 CONSECUTIVE TEST WINS (2 times) , 21 consecutive one day wins , hatrick world cup champions .. i think that speaks more than enough , if sledging could win you matches sreesanth and andre nel would have been world beaters !

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | January 1, 2014, 19:09 GMT

    And why is Clarke made out to be such a big villain ! i mean England (or for that matter any team) are no angels themselves and we all know the jelly bean incident with zaheer khan when India toured there before , anderson , matt prior all those guys have given it to others , now the wheel has turned and they are at the receiving end , so take it on your chin and move on please !

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | January 1, 2014, 19:03 GMT

    Well written article , but cant agree with the author completely , like 'brutalanalyst' said in this section i too don't find a little bit of talking undermining our great game , we should just enjoy the contest and sometimes a bit of talk/sledge does make it more interesting ...mitchell johnson fired up and giving it to his opponent and someone like Amla or Dravid dismantling bowling attacks without uttering a single word, its all these different people and their amazing skills that makes the game so interesting , i am an Indian but i used to love the cocky and perceived arrogance of mcgrath , ponting and co , can we sincerely imagine shane warne or a mcgrath or dale steyn like that ! they used to talk the talk and walk the walk , and most people loved them for that

  • POSTED BY Indian-cricket-analyst on | January 1, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    Exactly the type of article I've been waiting for, for a long time. During the last quarter century, banter has turned into sledging. Banter involves good humor and intelligence while sledging is downright rowdyism.

    To hear that sportsmen playing for the country somehow believe that sledging enables them to achieve success much more than skill and intelligence is preposterous. What is even more absurd is when the authorities allow it in the name of entertainment or gamesmanship.

    The true essence of sportsmanship is that shown by Nadal towards Federer in Aus open and that shown by Flintoff towards Brett Lee in Edgbaston Ashes. It shows the viewers and especially the children watching that you respect the effort put in by your opponent and that you understand winning/losing is part of life and what matters is how you conduct yourself in the arena.

    And then you hear that cricket is a gentleman's game!

  • POSTED BY iwatcheditwhenwewasrubbish on | January 1, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    Well written and overdue article.

    Nothing will change because the cricket authorities such as the ECB are concerned only with money, and sledging makes good hype/television to those who have money but no sense of respect for our once great game.

    Most English people would have had no chance to see any of the ashes were it not for a whim on the part of the Murdoch empire to show the highlights on channel 11. This is of course no concern to the ECB as they are getting maximum profit from the game, and it is this reason that they also do nothing about sledging by England players.

  • POSTED BY Mr_Anonymous on | January 1, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    Ed,

    Very timely and well written article although I wish you had written it at the beginning of the current Ashes series. I think this is a very important aspect of the game of cricket that has not been adequately addressed in my mind. I think it needs to be addressed quickly. I think the notion that sledging is a part of the game is silly. It sets the wrong precedent for young aspiring cricketers to follow by making them numb. I think the microphones at both sets of stumps need to be turned on at full volume so that the comments are recorded and can be played to the TV audience so that cricket fans can actually hear the banter (including derogatory, personal or foul language) and then decide for themselves. If things continue the way they currently are, I think the day is not very far when we will have physical aggression on the cricket field. Maybe, the powers that be are waiting for one of those episodes to happen before seriously addressing this issue, I don't know.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Well said, sir!I have long held the view the argument that sledging helps, is a fallacy.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    Really well written, particularly the piece about how Men's Tennis has evolved into a much more of a gentleman's sport whereas cricket has degenerated into a rogue's game.

  • POSTED BY Bonehead_maz on | January 1, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    I believe it is illegal on a cricket field to talk to an opponent ? It is however not illegal to talk about an opponent within their earshot. How dare anyone think any conversation between teammates is about them ?

  • POSTED BY thepilgrim on | January 1, 2014, 14:50 GMT

    Funny how baseball players can play their game for tens of millions of dollars in front of tens of millions of viewers and treat one another with respect (almost) all the time. Indeed to 'show up' a defeated opponent is regarded as a cardinal sin throughout American sport. But that said there is absolutely no desire amongst cricket authorities generally to do anything about sledging and the whole thing will deteriorate until the eventual and inevitable on-field fisticuffs at which point we'll get a whole truckload of hypocritical hand-wringing.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | January 1, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    @TropicalPleasure- I am no fan of sledging and not condoning it here.Beg to disagree on your take on sledging aiding perf. 2 shining eg. from none other than great Aus team in your post to prove.1st B Lee firing out batsmen @160ks-at his peak. 2nd Gilly.

  • POSTED BY xtrafalgarx on | January 1, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    The biggest problem with this topic is that the definition of the word "sledging" is murky. Ian Chappell talks of this, there is a difference between gamesmanship and abuse.

    Gamesmanship has been in the game forever, and there is nothing wrong with it. Recently Steyn said to Rohit while bowling to him "I've scored more runs than you this series", THAT'S gamesmanship. It makes a point but without crossing the line. Some people call it sledging, but most people associate the word sledging with abuse. What Michael Clarke did to Anderson is referred to as sledging or more accurately, abuse. But that's totally different from gamesmanship and that's what people get mixed up.

    Warne talked about it too, just staring at the opponent, saying simple things like "What are you looking at?", to make him feel as if he is in a contest, that's gamesmanship. However, people think sledging = abuse, and that's wrong. Abuse shouldn't be in the game, but nothing is wrong with gamesmanship!

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 14:40 GMT

    The Sledging should be termed as Maltreatment too for some part of the sledging, best example would be the Abuse of Michael Clarke to Andersen in first test Match. Also Warner should have think twice before questioning Jonathan Trott in front of Media, when the talk of field should be limited to field only, not for public addressing. Its no physical game to downside your opponent after a match in public. Its better to apply some strict rules to get the sledging part right.

  • POSTED BY Gevelsis on | January 1, 2014, 14:39 GMT

    :Thank you Ed this needed to be said. @whofriggincares: You do realise what a nasty piece of work you come across as don't you. And do learn to spell - glorys??

  • POSTED BY AGA_Patel on | January 1, 2014, 14:00 GMT

    A Debate of Sledging. I think for a good part I can say No, there is no need of sledging. It's when you meet the person out of the ground, whom you have thrown some serious abuse just to get his attention off from field. A little mock or funny words will do no harms but the serious abuse can create problem for both involved cricketer. Ed Smith said it right, with the player like Rahul Dravid, Sir Don &, Nadal who has never sledged a bowler in there career still comes out above all because of there performance. A fine example of fair Sledging would be a stare by 6 foot 6 inch tall West Indian bowler, who said nothing but just stare at batsman continuously to dominate them mostly by there performance then the verbal acts, asking batsman continuously to Hook a long hop to test there temperament is not bad. Surely M Clarke got it wrong, and he went too far in sledging the England has only done bad to him self.

    Its right its often "winning which leads to sledging" not other way.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    Magnificent article indeed..

  • POSTED BY whofriggincares on | January 1, 2014, 13:35 GMT

    @TropicPleasure. "they won partly because they were good , mostly because they were bullies" What an absolute load of rubbish, that team is held by most people who actually know anything about cricket as one of the top two most talented teams in the history of the game. It had 2 of the best bowlers of all time in Warne and Mcgrath , the most devastating keeper/batsmen ever, one of the most successful opening partnerships ever and 1 of the top 3 batsmen of that generation in Ponting. Saying it was PARTLY because they were good shows you don't know the slightest thing about our great game. Oh by the way what sport was it that you were part of a dominant team (which is the main reason for your post, to relive past glorys real or imagined) tiddlywinks? Other countrys supporters come up with crap like this all the time about that great side mainly because whatever country they support has never dominated anything for any period of time methinks.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    In my view, Ed is the most thought provoking sports writer in cricket at the moment, and this piece totally examplifies his creative mythbusting approach to the sport. While I agree with all points mentioned in his piece, it is important to differentiate between sledging/abusive behavior on the field and 'mental disintegration', comments which are meant to eat away at the opponent rather than grind him down with vulgarity. I believe the latter has a place in cricket as a way of mentally wearing down players (mind the windows Tino!), but abuse is more an action of frustration or intimidation, which is unacceptable beyond certain levels. Tennis, unlike cricket, does not have opponents talking back at each other, and do not interact the way cricketers do on the field...even McEnroe shouted at umpires, not opponents. Hence the comparison is not helpful. Otherwise, the piece is very well written.

  • POSTED BY BRUTALANALYST on | January 1, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    Not a very good comparison as Tennis was more popular in the 80's during those "flashy rivalries" with McEnroe and co times than it is now . . . Sledging is part of the game and it always will be for certain types of players. Humans are very diverse I don't see anything wrong with a charged up Dale Steyn giving the batsman some words or Mitchell Johnson and his Aussies the same way I can also admire a Dravid or Chanderpaul who go about the game in their own worlds both add to the game it's the ting and the yang. Whether those like it or not we can't lie that it doesn't generate more interest as aside from the results the back and forth Ashes drama on the field clearly contributed to the record breaking boxing day Test attendance.

  • POSTED BY TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on | January 1, 2014, 12:49 GMT

    I cannot help noticing that those who campaign to change other's behaviour want it to be ......... just a little like themselves.

    Tennis without the great play of any of McEnroe, Connors, Federer and Nadal would mean a lesser sport, however a planet populated with 7 billion of any single one of them (or any other single individual) would be a recipe for stagnation, boredom and decay.

    Attempts by various societies at thought policing have failed for this reason over the millennia. I suspect attempts at personality policing are also destined to fail.

  • POSTED BY Pu-ja-ra on | January 1, 2014, 12:44 GMT

    That said, sledging does 'work' to disrupt concentration in people who can't control their emotions while playing cricket. There are plenty of those people. So, I guess for professionals (cricket is a 'job') it is a low-risk strategy to decrease the level of the opposition, making their job easier. There is no risk because umpires etc. do next to nothing to stop it.

    When it filters down to non-professional cricket, it affects many more people at the base of the game. Some probably stop playing/stop sending kids to play as a result. It does more harm than good to the game as a whole. It probably does more harm than good to the professional clubs that use it their short-term advantage.

  • POSTED BY GRHinPorts on | January 1, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    Like Sir Francis has said below this is right on the nail for me. Very rare indeed to agree with every word of an article. Well said Ed! I long for the day when all chat on a cricket field between the team is totally banned except through official channels (i.e the umpires). No doubt I will have a long wait. Maybe one day when these kind of crass remarks leads to someone crashing a stump over his opponents skull or there is an outbreak of all-out fisticuffs between batsmen and fielders cricket will eventually see sense. Until then I will have the comfort of knowing how prescient this article was at the dawn of 2014.

  • POSTED BY TropicPleasure on | January 1, 2014, 12:14 GMT

    I really appreciate this piece. It's a sane, logical and sober argument against sledging. As a former sportsman I played for a team that dominated opponents. We won comfortably almost every time without sledging. As the old saying goes, our performances spoke for us. Frankly, I think we won many a match because the opposing team came in deflated and defeated. However, let's see what's happening with Australia cricket. They dominated for several years, partly because they were good, but mostly because they were bullies. Then India decided enough was enough and would no longer tolerate their bullying and cheating. The Australian public turned on them after the India protest and they decided to clean up their act. No longer the bullies, they began to lose, to become irrelevant, and the Australian public began to lose patience. Losing three Ashes series in a row caused them to snap and they've returned to their bullying and the public is celebrating because they have regained the ashes.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    Great article Ed, best I've read for quite some time, especially where cricket is concerned. Sir Francis, Bonniedoon - you gentlemen are spot on, very well said. Just can't watch test matches in this country anymore. Shield games aren't too bad and catching up with old mates at grade games is always a good time, but the carry on at tests (by both players and fans alike) is just ridiculous.

    Andrew Schultz, the unAustralian cricket team have won only 1 series and just 3 matches (one against a dubious Pakistan team on neutral territory) away from home in the last 4 years - and they haven't won a sloitary test match outside of Australia in over 2 years. I haven't checked the results of the other countries yet, but I am willing to bet I can find more than 1 team that has a better record than that.

  • POSTED BY Pu-ja-ra on | January 1, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    One of the main problems with sledging in televised cricket is that it is portrayed as normal, acceptable behaviour - it definitely encourages amateur cricketers, especially impressionable kids, especially at clubs where there is no decent moral guidance, to imitate. It would help if some of the more over-the-line sledging were highlighted when the sledger actually ends up losing the cricketing battle. It would then seem less cool, which is an easier concept to grasp than whether it is right or wrong.

  • POSTED BY I-Like-Cricket on | January 1, 2014, 11:52 GMT

    I was quite enjoying this article until the introdution of Federer and Nadal. I'm quite a large tennis fan and most people who are know that Fed was quite the brat when he was younger (throwing rackets and tantrums like a lot of young players). That is until he was pulled aside and told to basically pull his head in otherwise he'd never make it on the tour. He then became "emotionless" on court and even ther man himself has said that if he'd have continued down that path he'd have never become such a champion. He credits his success to being able to work up that fire and passion for the game. It's more about balance than abundance or completely dismissing it.

  • POSTED BY kasyapm on | January 1, 2014, 11:32 GMT

    Great article Ed. I personally like players who show grace in their on-field behaviour. Having said that, I would not want players like Kohli to suppress their natural instincts and become quiet, like a Dravid. However, there is definitely a line that should never be crossed and I feel this argument 'being competitive is to be a prick" does not hold water.

  • POSTED BY SRK666 on | January 1, 2014, 11:14 GMT

    @orangtan: My point was not really about whether Steyn's comments were tasteful, but rather that they were no more and no less than a negative remark about Rohit's cricketing achievements---he didn't target Rohit's personal life, or his race/culture, he didn't get particularly aggressive in his body language. We shouldn't conflate what Steyn did with other incidents like Clarke vs Anderson, Symonds vs Harbajan, etc.

    But also, taste is in the eye of the beholder. As is clear just from the comments here, for every person that finds those sorts of comments unsavoury, someone else thinks it adds a bit of spice and character to the game. That's why it's pointless for the umpires to try to be strict about this. The laws permit the umpires to report players for "bringing the game into disrepute", but if the wider cricketing audience aren't too bothered by a bowler disparaging a batsman's skill and achievements, then it's hard to make the case that the game has been brought into disrepute.

  • POSTED BY tickcric on | January 1, 2014, 10:47 GMT

    Well said. Team sports imo has a greater propensity to indulge in sledging or confrontation. Often certain questionable behaviour and deeds become acceptable and even appreciated when done in the context of "team's interest". For instance if we go back to the incident in Brisbane test for which Clarke got fined. The narrative goes like this - Clarke was counteracting Anderson's abuse towards Bailey. Basically defending his team mate.

    Even when sledging is going on between a bowler and a batsman the same subtext remains, this is professionalism and is been done for the team. That's why often the slips, the keeper, the short leg all join together to sledge. And they do it with a certain gusto! Why? It's for the team.

    That's why sledging has better acceptance and even sympathy in a team sports. Hiding behind collective interest we can pull off certain acts which would be condemned if done for one's own self.

  • POSTED BY spindizzy on | January 1, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    I do love an amateur psychologist masquerading as a marketing specialist. Is there nothing you can't turn your hand to? Concentrate on writing well first would be my suggestion.

  • POSTED BY george204 on | January 1, 2014, 10:32 GMT

    I thought that V Ramnarayan's recent blog was one of the finest things I'd read on sledging (& the comments thread below it depressing in its predictability), but this article really is the last word. Well written, Ed Smith. Toughness comes from the mind, not the mouth.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    Well presented argument as usual Ed. It's important for young people to understand that any acts or words spoken on the playing field or in the playground, reflects that person's values and behaviours, rather than being anything to do with the recipient.

  • POSTED BY CSpiers on | January 1, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    Also, you act as if nobody enjoys sledging and that it hurts 'the brand' of cricket. Please, get your head out of the sand.

  • POSTED BY Sir_Francis on | January 1, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    Well said Mr. Smith. It'd be silly to say this is the best thing I've read all year as the first day isn't over. So it's the best thing I've read in several years. Rarely do I agree with an opinion piece 100%.

    I consider sledging to be gutless. Perpetrated by insecure cricketers not confidant in their skills to beat the opposition. It is not mental disintegration Mr. Waugh, it is cowardly and, according to the rules, illegal (fat chance an umpire ever stopping it). And although I am only one person the last test I went to was many years ago when we played Sri Lankla in Cairns (I'm from Sydney). It got to the point where Australia's appaling behaviour stopped my enjoyment of even winning. I was even glad we lost in 2005. Imagine an australian cricket tragic wanting us to lose the Ashes! So I hate the cricketers who stopped me from loving cricket. Unforgiveable and it''s total disrespect for the game of cricket itself.

  • POSTED BY Narkovian on | January 1, 2014, 9:32 GMT

    YES. YES. I agree with Ed Smith. A little "humoorous" sledging has perhaps always been there. The odd comment passed between fast bowler and batsman after he has played and missed 3 times in a row. But NOT this nasty stuff that both AUS and ENG sides have been indulging in for the last 6 months. The greatest players in all sports we end up respecting in the long term have just about always been "nice guys". As he said Sobers, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laver, Nadal, Bobby Charlton, Lineker and many more. not the foulmouthed McEnroe( who now seems to have reinvented himself - but still suspiciously unrepentant). Who won the 4th Test for AUS ?. Lyon and Rogers, that's who. Quiet, non-sledging, professionals, who just get on with the job. MUCH RESPECT. Good luck to them.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    I totally agree with Ed Smith. Writing as a bowler, who retired aged 60 just a few years ago, I rarely encountered bad behaviour and never, ever sledged anyone. Watching the likes of Mitchell Johnson or Stuart Broad making arses of themselves by mouthing it up at the opposition, doesn't spice up the game, it drags it down to the level of cage fighting. And anyway... bullies are always found out in the end.

    Jon R.

  • POSTED BY orangtan on | January 1, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    @SRK66 I disagree, Steyn's comments against Rohit Sharma were in poor taste, now if he had sledged saying "Hey Rohit thought you were one of the best hookers in the team' or "YOU scored a double ton on debut" that would have been good sarcasm, but to say "You've done nothing in your career" ( even if it's true!) is below-the-belt.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 9:18 GMT

    I couldn't agree more with you Ed but sadly, as some of the comments show, some assume that sledging is an inevitable part of the game. That culture pervades amateur cricket as well as professional cricket. As a club cricketer of twenty five years sledging does bother me (not in relation to lessening my performance because I'm affected by it, but instead in relation to what it says about the people that play the game I have a passion for). It's often overly personal and normally comes from the person or team on top as you say.

    I for one certainly don't equate sledging with success, either at a personal or team level - quite the opposite.

  • POSTED BY stormy16 on | January 1, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    The issue here is no one really knows what is sledging. Everyone keeps calling it part of the game but its no defined and thus before saying sledging is/was/will be part of the game, the questions really is what is sledging and what is acceptable sledging. If these cannot be defined and policed then it canoot be part of the game. You cannot hold things to be part of the game if it cannot be defined and applied. That would be something that is not part and should not be part of the game. Unfortunaltey sledging only seems to appear when a team is winning and thus the misconception that it's a neccessary ingredient for winning.

  • POSTED BY Chanceman on | January 1, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    Naturally we should outlaw a bit of male ribbing now that the woossy Poms have been despatched. All cods, Mr Smith. You must never play golf where a small comment about a tricky putt can undermine the coolest of competitors and everyone can quietly crack up laughing. Tiger learnt to putt while his Dad banged a drum. Bradman was impervious. And how would you sledge Sachin? The Pomms are basically weak so a bit of sledging tips them over. Weak as...

  • POSTED BY andrew-schulz on | January 1, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Bonniedoon, Australia are a team of many flaws away from the comforts of Bondi....and Brisbane...and Perth... And Johannesburg....and did pretty well at the Oval and Manchester...and any ground in the West Indies.... And New Zealand.......and Pakistan when last played there.........and galle......and Pallekelle.....in fact pretty much the second best away record of all teams. And haven't lost a series in SA since 1970. So I'd be fairly cautious in that prediction.

  • POSTED BY andrew-schulz on | January 1, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    We need to delve a bit deeper Ed. we need to ask the question: 'what is sledging.' You seem to assume that it is a deliberate, pro-active attempt to disrupt the opposition, and it can be avoided. The fact is, sledging is mostly reactive to a situation. Mitchell Johnson in the last Test was not engaging in deliberate aggressive behaviour when he confronted Pieterson. He was genuinely angry at the batter pulling away repeatedly at the last minute. In any field of adult endeavour, people get angry when they are wronged. This is obviously heightened in a gladiatorial situation. As to your assertion that it becomes worse when a side is winning: spot on, and it shouldn't be a surprise. The whole point of competition is to defeat the opposition, and prove that you are better than them. When you do, you tell them about it. This is a normal human trait, and in a sport like cricket, where there is time between balls: yes it is inevitable that it will happen.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 7:26 GMT

    Probably one of the greatest sportsmen of all time was Muhammad Ali, and he wasn't short of a few words from time to time. Sledging is a by-product of professional sportsmen and passionate people alike. Its a part of a persons personality rather than a sign of weakness or strength. There has always been sledges and always been non-sledgers, and to be honest, I doubt anyone who plays sport cares

  • POSTED BY PrasPunter on | January 1, 2014, 7:06 GMT

    Well - i didn't see Ed Smith coming out with something like this three months ago. Is it a coincidence that there is lot of noise about sledging only when Aus wins ? Oh yes, he is English !!!

  • POSTED BY wik8 on | January 1, 2014, 7:03 GMT

    ah, sledging...beloved by fans and players, derided by pundits and reporters. a debate that only seems to arise when the australians are winning

  • POSTED BY disco_bob on | January 1, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    Really, who cares about a bit of argy bargy on the field, it's part of the game and if someone subsequently finds themselves to be 'ashamed' about something they have said to an opponent after bumping into them later, then so be it. It's called life and it would be more appropriate to point out that people in personal relationships sledge each other all the time, (although it goes by a different name) and it is these exchanges that really do damage, not some on field banter.

  • POSTED BY anuajm on | January 1, 2014, 6:58 GMT

    Some valid points Ed. Australia won this series because of Johnson and not because of sledging, it was definitely the outcome of it. Sledging in its worst form should not be encouraged definitely but i think little bit of sledging here and there has become an integral part of the game and should be ok. Players like Warne, Waugh have actually used sledging to good effect to change factual outcomes as Smithie mentioned. Most importantly. in this age of T20's where you can be playing against a player at one time and then with the player at another time, i think the players restrict their feelings in the match only and become friends outside. For every Dravid, Tendulkar and Kallis their is a Ganguly, Kohli and Steyn that just adds to the fun of the game. Sledging has infact placed some games permanently in our memory, remember Aamir Sohail - Venkatesh Prasad, Ganguly-Flintoff, now Steyn - Rohit etc..

  • POSTED BY Tova on | January 1, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    Sledging isn't about being a bully or being tough. It's about getting an edge over your opponent. It affects some and not others, some love being sledged as it forces them to concentrate more. Saying that only the team winning sledges is naive. The English have sledged the Australians during this current series and I'm sure the Aussies sledged the Poms in the previous series. Despite both being soundly beaten. And yes I can guarantee you that the crowd loves a bit of spice in a contest...

  • POSTED BY Booniedoon on | January 1, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    Dax - the author clearly makes reference to England sledging during their home ashes win, so it was never suggested that we are the only team that indulges in it, just that we've finally won a couple of games so it has popped up its ugly head. Good article. I guess I've come to expect some degree of sledging in cricket. Found a couple of Clarke/Warner's rants this summer particularly distasteful/ungraceful/borderline violent but unfortunately what can I expect from these guys? Expect a quieter team by game two in South Africa, when we are once again exposed as a team with many flaws, away from the comforts of Bondi.

  • POSTED BY SRK666 on | January 1, 2014, 6:14 GMT

    The problem with this article (as with so many others on the topic) is that it treats "sledging" as a unified behaviour. It isn't.

    When Dale Steyn was bowling to Rohit Sharma, Steyn reportedly said to Sharma "I've made more runs in this series than you" and "You've done nothing in your career". This is brilliant stuff from Steyn, for a couple of reasons. (1) It's funny, and helps give the fielding team a bit of a morale/motivation lift; (2) It gets in the batsman's head, and diverts their full concentration from the next ball. But there's no personal animosity or significant amount of intimidation here. (Equating Steyn's comments with playground bullying is ridiculous.)

    You might think that the Michael Clarke vs James Anderson episode is what's wrong with "sledging" and that we should try to stamp it out. But Steyn's (and similar) comments shouldn't be lumped together with Michael Clarke's belligerent and aggressive taunting of James Anderson.

  • POSTED BY Dax75 on | January 1, 2014, 5:43 GMT

    Yes yes if COURSE ED its only the Australians that sledge. Enjoy the scoreline.

  • POSTED BY Bonehead_maz on | January 1, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    Floyd Patterson is best remembered for quietly uttering "Muhammad Ali" when having been battered to a pulp while sledged constantly with ....."what's my name ?". Eventually Floyd relented on claiming it was "Cassius Clay". Bradman NEVER sledged English bowling in an interview - just said things like "after ensuring the team is likely to win, I do look to break records". On the field Ed you yourself didn't notice it.............. certainly utterers of personal and particularly family abuse should be embarrassed........ the clever stuff about how you are batting that day though is tricky ? Should we ban on field commentary ? BTW Tennis has it's lowest following ever.

  • POSTED BY Webba84 on | January 1, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    Best analysis of this particular issue I have read. Personally it has never offended me when players do it but I have never really understood why they do it and mostly just wish they would get on and play.

  • POSTED BY DarthKetan on | January 1, 2014, 2:50 GMT

    Excellent piece, Ed! The parallel drawn with the bullies is very apt. I hope all international cricketers read this (particularly those supposedly 'tough' ones). If powers that be need any validation from viewers, I watch the game for the cricket, not the 'spice', which I get from the quality of the game and not the shenanigans of the players.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 2:30 GMT

    Brilliant article. As an Englishman living in Australia for the past nine years I've always been struck by how gracious the Aussies are in defeat but, conversely, the rabid dog comes out in victory. It's a worrying 'kick 'em while they're down' mentality one sees in grade cricket here too.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    Thank you. The best article I've read about sledging so far. My only criticism is what it doesn't mention: the link between sledging and flawed conceptions of masculinity. All that elevation of toughness and machismo absolutely feeds into the misplaced belief that sledging is inevitable and right - and it is very much premised upon a very traditional idea of masculinity. This seems to be especially the case in Australia. Case in point: Michael Clarke, who has been derided in the past for being a "metrosexual" and a "pretty boy", but who has now won points in some quarters for his ugly sledge against Anderson.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    The ' Tied Test Match ' between Australia & West Indies, remains in my memory, as the toughset ever fought Game of Cricket - Richie Benaud & Frank Worrell were given a rousing reception on the streets of Melbourne - a gathering only once seen before with the Queen's visit - the Cricketing World admired their Sportsmanship - no sledging ! ! ! - yet the toughest Game of Cricket was played out. THAT WAS CRICKET - THIS AIN'T CRICKET ANYMORE. DR. AHAD KHAN

  • POSTED BY stueyh1 on | January 1, 2014, 1:56 GMT

    Magnificent article, Ed! I just wish that professional cricketers could distance themselves from the bullying mentality that so many seem to have. The game is too precious, too beautiful to be spoilt by angry brats of the McInroe/Conners ilk. To see cricketers carrying on like children in a schoolyard whilst on the field is sickening. I have played a lot of cricket and yes there is dialogue on the field, the vast majority good natured and humourous. The idea that sledging somehow equates with "hardness" is ridiculous, as Ed says, it is undignified and unneccessary.

  • POSTED BY David_Jockel on | January 1, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    The famous series between Australia and West Indies that included that tied test was before my time, but apparently it was not only very popular, it also generated powerful feelings of goodwill. Presumably it was a pleasure to play in and a pleasure to watch.

    That's one of the ironies of all this sledging - surely it makes playing less enjoyable? These guys have achieved what most of us dream of - a career playing a game you love - but rather than all having a good time together they make life miserable for each other.

  • POSTED BY sifter132 on | January 1, 2014, 1:26 GMT

    Who are the real victims of sledging? The mentally weak. That's what it's all about - taking the focus of the player off the game and onto other things. Shane Warne demonstrated that is doesn't have to be verbal barrages just last week when talking about his bowling, saying he would move fielders half a metre backwards and forwards just to show the batsman that he was in control. Critics of sledging insist it is angry, personal vitriol. Is it? Sometimes it must be, but very rarely I would imagine. In my view 'sledging' can be as simple as a keeper yelling out 'wicket at any minute here boys'. Is that personal? Nasty? No.

    Last point, does the public enjoy sledging? They certainly do, not everyone of course, but you'll find that Michael Clarke made a lot of friends confronting Jimmy Anderson, and when Mitch Johnson stares at Joe Root menacingly you'll see viewers of all ages sit up and smile, it's something different and adds an edge to the game in their mind.

  • POSTED BY Smithie on | January 1, 2014, 1:25 GMT

    Do we detect the slightest whiff of sour grapes Ed? The element of the game played between the ears can be impacted by sledging for some participants and if it does change factual outcomes it is a tool worth using and an integral part of the game.

  • POSTED BY Smithie on | January 1, 2014, 1:25 GMT

    Do we detect the slightest whiff of sour grapes Ed? The element of the game played between the ears can be impacted by sledging for some participants and if it does change factual outcomes it is a tool worth using and an integral part of the game.

  • POSTED BY sifter132 on | January 1, 2014, 1:26 GMT

    Who are the real victims of sledging? The mentally weak. That's what it's all about - taking the focus of the player off the game and onto other things. Shane Warne demonstrated that is doesn't have to be verbal barrages just last week when talking about his bowling, saying he would move fielders half a metre backwards and forwards just to show the batsman that he was in control. Critics of sledging insist it is angry, personal vitriol. Is it? Sometimes it must be, but very rarely I would imagine. In my view 'sledging' can be as simple as a keeper yelling out 'wicket at any minute here boys'. Is that personal? Nasty? No.

    Last point, does the public enjoy sledging? They certainly do, not everyone of course, but you'll find that Michael Clarke made a lot of friends confronting Jimmy Anderson, and when Mitch Johnson stares at Joe Root menacingly you'll see viewers of all ages sit up and smile, it's something different and adds an edge to the game in their mind.

  • POSTED BY David_Jockel on | January 1, 2014, 1:51 GMT

    The famous series between Australia and West Indies that included that tied test was before my time, but apparently it was not only very popular, it also generated powerful feelings of goodwill. Presumably it was a pleasure to play in and a pleasure to watch.

    That's one of the ironies of all this sledging - surely it makes playing less enjoyable? These guys have achieved what most of us dream of - a career playing a game you love - but rather than all having a good time together they make life miserable for each other.

  • POSTED BY stueyh1 on | January 1, 2014, 1:56 GMT

    Magnificent article, Ed! I just wish that professional cricketers could distance themselves from the bullying mentality that so many seem to have. The game is too precious, too beautiful to be spoilt by angry brats of the McInroe/Conners ilk. To see cricketers carrying on like children in a schoolyard whilst on the field is sickening. I have played a lot of cricket and yes there is dialogue on the field, the vast majority good natured and humourous. The idea that sledging somehow equates with "hardness" is ridiculous, as Ed says, it is undignified and unneccessary.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 1:59 GMT

    The ' Tied Test Match ' between Australia & West Indies, remains in my memory, as the toughset ever fought Game of Cricket - Richie Benaud & Frank Worrell were given a rousing reception on the streets of Melbourne - a gathering only once seen before with the Queen's visit - the Cricketing World admired their Sportsmanship - no sledging ! ! ! - yet the toughest Game of Cricket was played out. THAT WAS CRICKET - THIS AIN'T CRICKET ANYMORE. DR. AHAD KHAN

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 2:28 GMT

    Thank you. The best article I've read about sledging so far. My only criticism is what it doesn't mention: the link between sledging and flawed conceptions of masculinity. All that elevation of toughness and machismo absolutely feeds into the misplaced belief that sledging is inevitable and right - and it is very much premised upon a very traditional idea of masculinity. This seems to be especially the case in Australia. Case in point: Michael Clarke, who has been derided in the past for being a "metrosexual" and a "pretty boy", but who has now won points in some quarters for his ugly sledge against Anderson.

  • POSTED BY on | January 1, 2014, 2:30 GMT

    Brilliant article. As an Englishman living in Australia for the past nine years I've always been struck by how gracious the Aussies are in defeat but, conversely, the rabid dog comes out in victory. It's a worrying 'kick 'em while they're down' mentality one sees in grade cricket here too.

  • POSTED BY DarthKetan on | January 1, 2014, 2:50 GMT

    Excellent piece, Ed! The parallel drawn with the bullies is very apt. I hope all international cricketers read this (particularly those supposedly 'tough' ones). If powers that be need any validation from viewers, I watch the game for the cricket, not the 'spice', which I get from the quality of the game and not the shenanigans of the players.

  • POSTED BY Webba84 on | January 1, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    Best analysis of this particular issue I have read. Personally it has never offended me when players do it but I have never really understood why they do it and mostly just wish they would get on and play.

  • POSTED BY Bonehead_maz on | January 1, 2014, 3:36 GMT

    Floyd Patterson is best remembered for quietly uttering "Muhammad Ali" when having been battered to a pulp while sledged constantly with ....."what's my name ?". Eventually Floyd relented on claiming it was "Cassius Clay". Bradman NEVER sledged English bowling in an interview - just said things like "after ensuring the team is likely to win, I do look to break records". On the field Ed you yourself didn't notice it.............. certainly utterers of personal and particularly family abuse should be embarrassed........ the clever stuff about how you are batting that day though is tricky ? Should we ban on field commentary ? BTW Tennis has it's lowest following ever.