The teams playing the triangular series in Australia at the moment are not just financial Big Three of international cricket, but also the three worst-behaved teams on the field. The Test series between England and India was not played in the best of spirits last English summer. The two Ashes series before that set their own precedents for bad behaviour. The Test series in the Australian summer, between Australia and India, was bitter too. So puerile have been the skirmishes that it was boring by the end of it
Elsewhere in the world, Chris Gayle bowed down to AB de Villiers in admiration, and Sri Lanka and New Zealand have been congratulating and applauding the other team's performers, and talking the opposition up in the press.
Already there has been an incident in this triangular. David Warner's go at Rohit Sharma in the MCG ODI was at best preachy. Even if Rohit Sharma had taken an overthrow off a ricochet off his body, he is well entitled to under the laws of the game. He shouldn't have angry opposition players in his face over that. At its cynical worst it was a concerted attempt to waver Rohit's concentration. On the morning after Warner said he has been slapped on the wrist by the ICC, and that he had thought that India had taken the overthrow despite a ricochet, which clearly wasn't the case. It didn't even need replays to ascertain that.
Now England are added into the mix. Given the three teams' history, another altercation can't be too far off. A major part of Joe Root's press conference before the Gabba ODI was centred on on-field behaviour, not least because it involves his old pal Warner. Former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe's article suggesting yellow cards was brought up too. Root said he didn't mind the suggestion.
"Yeah, why not?" Root said. "It seems that at the minute there's a lot of things that people aren't happy with, the way people are holding themselves on the field, and if that's [the suspension system] going to sort that out, then why not? I've not thought about it, I've not read the article or anything."
That it is Warner who is visiting the dock repeatedly doesn't give Root any extra joy after their infamous punch-up at a bar in England during the Ashes in 2013. "I'm not really that concerned about his career," Root said. "I'm more concerned about England cricket. Obviously there's the odd opponents' stuff that's quite funny, but that's where it stays."
Root was asked if he too shares Crowe's concern that all this aggression on the field won't remain just physical, that it could result in a punch-up. "Someone would have to be in a really bad place to do that," Root said. "Like I said, it's about scoring runs and taking wickets. For me, that's what it should be all about. It shouldn't really be about trying to upset the opposition. You should try and do that with the ball or bat. There's obviously been a few things that have happened in the last six months. That's not good for the game, but I can't see it going that far to lead to a punch. It's not ice hockey."
Root said he wasn't sledged at or singled out by the Australian players in the Sydney ODI. "I wasn't really out there long enough to find out, to be honest. It's not really for me to talk about," Root said. "I'm sure the ICC will handle it themselves, and we'll leave it up to them to sort out. It's trying to get the balance right between playing hard on the field and not crossing the line, making sure you've got respect for your opposition but still playing to win, and playing hard cricket. That's how you want it to be played. But again, there's a line, you know where it is generally and as long as you don't cross that, that's what it's all about."
If it is about respecting the opposition and also earning their respect, New Zealand's Tim Southee will sooner or later be their opponent. This is what he thinks of the exchanges between the players on the field of late: "It's getting a bit boring, to be fair. There's a place for sledging, but there's a little bit too much going on I guess, at the moment." Most of the cricketing world agrees.
India vs England
Carlton Mid One-Day International Tri-Series
India tour of Australia and New Zealand
England tour of Australia and New Zealand
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo