Ashes Diary 2013-14 – Entry No.2: Is sledging worth it?

I get both sides of the sledging debate.

Like many, I get a bit ugly during the Ashes. The bogan stirs. I want to see England intimidated, knocked over, given the send off. Anderson and Broad deserve everything hurled at them; it’s a real man’s, not gentleman’s, game; get over it and on with it…etc…etc


When the bogan rants subside and my rational voice gets a word in, two questions keep bouncing around in my head. The first, If Australia reclaims the Ashes, what will this series be remembered for? Mitch’s match-winning bowling; Clarke’s hundreds and captaincy; Warner’s batting; Haddin’s all-round contribution; brilliant fielding; or, Australia’s arrogance and bullying?

Unfortunately, Australia’s two Test victories have been overshadowed by its behaviour.

Also, I ask a question I often pose in an AFL context: is this good for the game? This is the bottom line when contemplating development, change, or issue in any sport.

With so much competition for hearts and minds, Lehmann and his players should be conscious of the example they are setting, as well as their duty to cricket. We don’t want to lose the next champion to the childish behaviour of those before him or her.

Considering the Australian Test team has a permanently problematic relationship with its public, it’s concerning CA is encouraging this culture to emerge. Does the administration care about criticism or loss of support? Is winning at all costs worth it in the long run?

Match referee, Jeff Crowe, threw charges against Johnson and Stokes in the bin pretty quickly which shows the ICC has no problem with how things are going.

Australia may win the Ashes, but do the game in this country at least, harm.

Honours were shared on the opening day in Adelaide, but could easily have gone to England if catches were held. The visitors could have been batting by stumps on a pitch more mysterious than predicted.

Australia’s victory was brought about by its dominance of days two and three. Clarke and Haddin went along at a run a minute during the second day with England unable to slow things down. True, Haddin was dismissed from a no ball, but over-stepping is like dropping catches – bad cricket. By Tea, Australia had reached 500 and the match was almost gone for England.

Besides Broad, bowlers have showed little. Anderson can’t extract swing and his body language is disappointing as usual. Clarke is playing both superbly: back to Broad for the short one; forward to Anderson for the yorker. The Aussies have bitten the bullet with Swann and are winning. His record isn’t good over here. Credit to England for having two spinners bowling by session two of the Test. Pity neither was up to it.

The dismissal of Cook – embarrassed by a Johnson thunderbolt – may be the image of the series.

Day three, England lost 7-61 in a bit over twenty overs, thanks again to Johnson and a lack of fight in its batsmen. There were too many get out and get out of the way shots and Michael Vaughan’s ‘terrified’ label is spot on.

With Calcutta 2001 now forming the First Commandment of Australian cricket, there was no surprise Clarke didn’t enforce the follow-on, however I half expected him to bat on on the fourth morning, if for no other reason than to rub noses in it. Thankfully, slowly grinding opposition to death, Border style, isn’t how Clarke captains. He likes to gamble; give opposition reason to think there is life.

When KP and Root were moving along, Australia grew nervous, still fearing England’s top six, even without Trott. However, with the amount of dismissals from hooks and pulls, it was obvious England wasn’t keen on the long haul.

The English haven’t been up for the fight so far and with CA’s greedy, desperate determination to get the Ashes out of the way for the shorter stuff in January, they only have a few days to get their heads and games together. Their biggest problem is Cook who looks haunted and has lost his control and composure.

The Ashes aren’t lost for England yet, but they could be this time next week.

Everything has gone right for Australia. From winning tosses, to no-ball calls, to freak catches. They should go on and regain the urn, however if they don’t they will pay for their behaviour.


  1. Mickey Randall says

    Andrew- sledging is now an embedded aspect of cricket, and I’m not sure that what has occurred thus far is any worse or memorable than that of previous Ashes. And of course our bogan-centric commercial media loves it, and as long as they do, I’m sure CA is happy. Sledging is now a fundamental part of the modern construct of cricket entertainment.
    I’m reminded of the cartoon featuring Ralph E. Wolf and Sam Sheepdog as they go about their murderous business, but at knock off time, all apparent hostilities cease.

  2. Agree with Mickey. This is no worse than back in the I. Chappell ,Lillee, Marsh days etc. Mc Grath and Warne subsequently. I think it is part and parcel of the modern game and it is accentuated by the media and stump cams etc. It was always going on but not waved in our face. Psychology in modern sport is important and always was. Use all the artillery you have but play within the rules. Its never changed whatever the sport.

  3. Ben Footner says

    The English do incredibly well to perpetuate a ‘gentlemanly’ image, but I’m sure they were far from gracious hosts in the Old Dart 6 months ago. I get the feeling that there’s a significant ‘payback’ factor to this series.

    I think the English media also like to play on the ‘agressive and uncouth Australians’ tag which exaserbates the issue.

    As far as I’m concerned the behaviour has been aggressive and competitive, but no one has crossed the line. The only dubious one was probably Warner calling Trott ‘weak’ in a press conference, that was probably wrong – I don’t think it comments like that should be made off the field.

  4. AS – not a fan of bland, mindless sledging, but don’t mind a clever and cutting quip. It seems to me that the impact of the sledging is lost because its now “normal”. Both teams are at it. Apparently Jimmy Anderson is quite a culprit too.

    The best sledge is to make a ton – or get a Michelle.

  5. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Nice work Starkie,

    While I think it’s healthy to express the inner bogan on occasion, I think it’s important that he be kept on a short leash. Australia has hovered over the edge and let’s face it, cricket is much more entertaining when the threat of violence is only a mistimed sledge away.
    And don’t worry about the kiddies, we can compensate the character flaws with role models like KFC, VB and Betfair. Brands they can be proud of.

  6. Re sledging, I wonder if it just seems to be more in our faces this series, because of the 24/7 media mayhem in our e-lives – also gives Fleet street a reason to have a crack at us. It’s always been part and parcel of the game, from Vic Richardson (“which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?”), to Chappelli and co at their bogun best, to Dessie Haynes praying at short leg for Holding to kill Border with his next delivery, and it reached it’s zenith with John Emburey “that facking facker is facking facked!”

  7. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Sledging has always been there verbally this series has been no better or worse than others blame the stupidity of the stump mike , although I did think the great man ,
    Jeff Crowe SA number 3 in our Sheffield shield winning side of , 81 82 was a tad lenient as it certainly was deliberate by both , Stokes and , Johnson .
    People who say juniors then copy all that needs is strong coaches and umpires to remind them they are not test players and are not playing for the ashes there must be strong and assertive leadership that test cricket is different in that what is at stake

  8. Sledging can take amyriad of forms, depending on the person(s) dishing it out. I do find the ongoing cant about the behaviour of Australian cricketers tediuos, as i ‘ve heard it for circa 40 years. Are Australians the worst behaved cricketers? Do we ever hear about the behaviour of other nations players?
    It seems Jimmy Anderson is not adverse to dishing it out. Let’s cast our minds back to the great Windies sides of hte 1970s.. They weren’t adverse to backing up their ferocious cricket, with a bit of verbal intimidation. At times it went beyond verbal into actual physically challenging behaviour as when Colin Croft ran int Umpie Fred Goodall in Aoteroa in 1980. Do we hear much about this behaviour?
    What about the racial abuse Habrahjan Singh allegedly dished out to Andrew Symonds? When this was challenged, and the BCCI supported their player, saying they ‘d take their bat and abll, then go home, the ACB, and the media went week at the knees.
    Please before we continue on about the behaviour of the Australians, lets move beyond this version of a cultural cringe where we condemn out sides, whilst exonerating the behaviuor of other nations players, and acknowlede no national side has a monoploy on bad behaviour.


Leave a Comment