Sledging – Don’t single out cricket

The ICC can’t seriously expect cricket to be played without sledging.  The game is built for sledging.  There is a lot of downtime, as the bowler walks back to his mark and between overs.

 

Aside from shaking hands at the toss or after the game, there is no physical contact between opponents.

 

The absence of physicality leaves sledging as the only outlet for frustration.  The ICC can’t expect the players to discuss the weather and pitch conditions.

 

Cricket is too tough a game played by hard men to expect silence.  There is violence, but it is not metered out by body on body, fist on face or through tackles and bumps.

 

Only the ball can inflict physical damage on opponents.  There is no other way to bruise an opposition player.  Toughness isn’t a requirement of playing cricket, not like it is in football or boxing.

 

Cricketers aren’t scared of opponents, not physically.  They are scared of the ball.  No one is scared of the bat.  It can only impart damage onto the ball.  It is not used to whack adversaries.

 

Due to the lack of physical violence, cricket was once regarded as a gentleman’s game.  Yet sledging, or mental disintegration, has been a part of cricket since the first ball was bowled.

 

Sledging is also universal in life, in all sports, the playground, at work and among friends.

 

Children lead to read and write at primary school.  They also learn to taunt and respond to threats and violence in the playground.

 

Mates provide blunt advice when it isn’t wanted but is desperately needed.  It might be a missed shot or picking on an Essendon supporter.  Intelligence might be questioned.

 

At work, the sledges don’t stop, but are rationalised as performance appraisals, you stuffed up that order, how many times are you going to get it wrong?

 

People get sledged by their partners, too.

 

Anyone who played football has received the age-old warning, get another kick and I’ll belt ya.  The retort is simple, why wait until I get another kick?

 

Sledging can be good natured, but is usually mean-spirited, you just shit yourself, you weak prick, I’d be embarrassed to have you as a teammate.

 

We have been sledged our entire life.  It is part of the human psyche.

 

It is unreasonable to expect cricketers to behave otherwise.  Cricket can’t be different from any other gathering of people.

 

Still, Michael Clarke was fined $3000 for uttering a threat to Jimmy Anderson, get ready for a broken fu**ing arm.

 

Thanks to the fine and ample media coverage, Clarke’s statement has already become Australia’s newest jest among mates.  It’s been heard in schoolyards.  Kids, it seems, are not disturbed by idle threats, rather, they are inspired.

 

Implemented to set an example, the fine has created new slang.  It was a pointless tangent to the Test.

 

It matters not that Clarke is a hero to thousands.  Those kids might look to their fathers for clarification.  Analysis is simple, Anderson threatened to punch Bailey, and you can’t do that in cricket.

 

Cricket isn’t boxing.  Anderson was lucky not to be fined for his teenage threat.

 

Clarke’s threat, get ready for a broken fu**ing arm, was far more intimidating, but taken in context, it was also filled with bluff and bravado, just like Anderson’s.

 

Although Clarke couldn’t break Anderson’s arm, Mitchell Johnson might, but Clarke didn’t follow Johnson back to his mark and ask him to break Anderson’s arm.

 

Clarke’s threat was implied, a primitive retaliation.  If Anderson ended up with a broken arm, it would’ve been by legal means, ball on bone.

 

It wasn’t worth $3000.  Clarke didn’t threaten to kill Anderson, like Malcolm Marshall did to David Boon in his debut Test.  Marshall’s threat is now a part of cricket folklore.

 

Fining Clarke isn’t going to prevent sledging.  It won’t stop footballer’s swearing at each other and questioning courage.  Boxers will still threaten violence.  It won’t hamper sledges at work, home or at school.

 

Jonathon Trott’s retreat from Australia has exposed the mental frailties not only faced by sportsmen, but the community at large. Sledging has been mentioned as a possible reason for his departure.

 

Certainly sledging may compound mental frailties, but it can’t be the only cause.

 

When David Warner, during an interview, said Trott was weak and scared, that message had already been delivered, many times, on the field by men other than Warner.

 

None knew about Trott’s mental state.  Regardless, Warner should’ve left that slight on the field.

 

Sledging is mostly abuse, used to create doubt, uncertainty and anger.  It becomes a challenge of wills, respond or ignore.  Getting chirped at through an innings must be aggravating and tiring.  Certainly it can be intimidating.

 

Dozens of players have been offended and upset by sledging, but is calling a player weak and scared overstepping the ICC’s code of conduct?

 

Trott’s departure won’t stop the Aussies calling the Poms weak and scared.

 

Cricket cannot be played without sledging, not when it exists in every other facet of life.  Cleaning up cricket won’t make a moment’s difference to life off the field.

 

Sledging will still go on, everywhere…

 

 

About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…

Comments

  1. Mickey Randall says

    Trott’s case is telling. I wonder if the ECB management was aware of his medical condition. If so, what had been done to help him? Should he have been playing cricket?
    Competitive sport is partly physical, partly psychological. It is not possible to remove the psychological arena from the contest. However, as in every aspect of life, the rules of common decency must apply.

  2. One of the most effective sledging episodes was an early Sri Lankan test vs Australia. Allan Border was driven to distraction by the constant chatter of which the only words he understood were ‘Allan Border’. Apparently they were talking about what an honour it was to be on the field with the great man…

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Totally agree iron mike and while , 3 grand isn’t going to really hurt , M Clarke
    Channel 9 should have come forward and said well pay as it was ther stuff up it went to air overall spot on fact sledging is a part of life . Trotts issue is separate and mental illness and depression is v serious and , Mickey has put the side issue of that perfectly above . Thanks iron mike

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