Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day December 17, 2010

Australians step up sledging war

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Australia have made a concerted effort to turn up the volume on England and the extra sledging is increasing the tension between the sides. Mitchell Johnson called Kevin Pietersen a "smart arse" for asking for his phone number on the field and was also involved in arguments with James Anderson.

Matt Prior exchanged words with Peter Siddle after being bounced out and appeared to invite the bowler out the back for another confrontation. "Siddle was going pretty hard, coming around the wicket and bowling short balls into his ribs," Johnson said. "I don't think [Prior] liked it too much."

Johnson believes Australia perform better when they are loud and he has asked Brad Haddin and Siddle for tips about getting in England's faces. Anderson and Johnson have swapped barbs over two Tests and today it was Johnson's turn to deliver a send-off when Anderson was his sixth victim as England slipped to 187 all out.

Pietersen also cheekily suggested he and Johnson could be friends after the series. "I didn't give him my phone number, that's for sure," Johnson said. "I don't think he was being friendly, I think he was being a bit of a smart arse."

Johnson had already got Pietersen's number when he had him lbw for 0 on the way to figures of 6 for 38. "Pietersen, whether he's joking around or being cheeky, he does get under some blokes' skins more than others," he said. "I'm sure I get under a lot of their blokes' skin. It goes both ways."

He judged Graeme Swann as the opposition's best sledger and said he enjoyed playing England because "they give it back as much as we give it to them". However, England's players didn't think they were such a big part of the verbals.

"I didn't realise it was all kicking off like that," Ian Bell said. "We thought there was a bit of banter going on, but I didn't realise Johnson was quite in our faces as probably what he thinks he was."

Since the fractious India series of 2007-08, Australia's on-field behaviour has been under extra scrutiny and Johnson said there were times when they had to tone down. "We definitely backed off for a little bit there, we've been a bit up and down with it," Johnson said.

Despite the bouts of trouble, the talk helps stir the Australians and it has been a feature of the team's make-up for the past 40 years. "If you look at the times we have performed well, they've been very fiery games," Johnson said. "I don't mind getting in a little bit of a confrontation, as long as we don't overstep the mark. We're playing for the Ashes."

Johnson is a quiet, sensitive man off the field and he has to act out a different role when he mouths off. He was in trouble earlier in the year for butting heads with New Zealand's Scott Styris and at times has to battle to stay in control.

"I just need to keep my emotions in check and I think I did that today," he said. "I was fired up enough, I was more worried about where I wanted to put the ball. I enjoyed celebrating the wickets I got today."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 18, 2010, 5:21 GMT

    No body will challange Micheal Jonson as eveybody knows his girl firend is a Karrate champion

  • CustomKid on December 18, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    ha ha well said Harry93 - I hope Prior's quick on his feet and being a keeper I'd say he is, because if Siddle the ex Woodchopper got hold of him he'd soon be using his bones rather than timber to whittle his next creation.

    Prior deserved the send off he got after falling to the bouncer barrage. He looked like a child who'd just lost their parent in a shopping centre once they started zipping around his ears. I don't blame him lol but he's got to show more ticker than that.

    Also growing tired of the Aussie bashing here too. They aren't the team of 5 years ago and are easily beatable, so kick them as hard as you can while they're down because they'll be back in a few years time dominating again.

  • Trickstar on December 18, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    @dharmadasa Well if Johnson needs to get fired up before he starts to perform on the pitch, he might as well give it up. As a Pro cricketer you should be able to perform to the best of your ability all the time, not when some one calls you a name or two.

  • Nadeem1976 on December 18, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    Oh my favourate subject. Sledging. I believe in sledging and i love australians when they do that. Good thing about australian sledging is that they do it to win matches like wrestlers do and that makes cricket more intense and entertaining.

    A cricketer should be mentaly strong enough to face sledging from any team.

    I like england to start sledgin too in this match, they have upper hand in the series so why not put pressure on australia.

    Just do more sledging thats why i like Lillee and Miandad becuase they were master of that.

    Make this boaring test cricket some entertaining...come on.

  • Rahulbose on December 18, 2010, 2:29 GMT

    An Australian team sledging in home tests. So what else is new?

  • righthandbat on December 18, 2010, 2:08 GMT

    There is nothing 'manly' about sledging. There is also nothing 'manly' about crying about it - a good player will rise above such taunting and put the ball to the boundary as a retort.

  • Aspraso on December 18, 2010, 2:06 GMT

    Dear Aussies -- please clam up (at both ends) and play cricket -- the Ashes are stlll with the England !!

  • AussieMatt1974 on December 18, 2010, 1:27 GMT

    There is nothing wrong with what has been happening all through this series as far as sledging goes. It is Test Cricket at it's best not backyard cricket for gods sake! Both sides have been fine and with Anderson and Swann having their say when on top to the Aussies fightback with both ball and verbals yesterday, it makes for a fantastic contest. The rest of the world cricket do it and players such as Harbijan (the most fined player in cricket history), Zaheer and Sehwag are the worst and most obvoius but I don't care as long as the cricket is good and tough. Verbals are part of the gamesmanship and mental aspect. It's great the Aussies have got that aspect back. It has brought the series to life thats for sure.

  • dummy4fb on December 18, 2010, 1:24 GMT

    LOL!!! this is why ashes is so much fun to watch! and Congrats Johnson!!! For ur 6 wickets!! keep it up!! u finnaly found ur form!! :))

  • phoenixsteve on December 18, 2010, 1:08 GMT

    @Sfay... you've got to admit that apart from a few hours the Aussies have been consistent! CONSISTENTLY RUBBISH that is! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

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