The Ashes is the greatest bilateral rivalry in cricket and the most cherished folklore in cricket. Except the classic battle of bat and ball, sledging is another infamous but epic thing that surrounds each Ashes and make the series most popular bilateral series among the crickets fans cutting across the boundaries.
The governing body of cricket, ICC does not let sledging to surround the game anymore. But, the sledging is in the blood of Australian, they literally can’t stop “talking” to opposition players.
Before the ball rolls on the pitch, usually cricketers play the Ashes in their mind. Legends of the Ashes tried get into the skin of opposition players while young squad members revive the memory of playing Ashes and offer words before about his aim from the current Ashes.
We know about Shane Warne’s warning to James Anderson. Meanwhile, Flintoff predicted a 2-1 series win for England. Both legends were playing the game in their mind.
Stuart Broad took the sledging to the next level, albeit in a funny manner. He tweeted a picture with Peter Siddle with a caption: “Sids and I discussing sledging strategies…@petersiddle403.” But, nevertheless, things will not be funnier when they will take the field on July 8 at Sophia Gardens.
Young guns, who are all set to perform for the first time in the Ashes, are feeding journalist with their promises of playing Ashes hard.
Players like David Warner, after landing in England suddenly is haunted by the 2013 “glancing blow” incident. He apologised two years after for that infamous incident, even said he felt embarrassed.
One player, who wants to reply Pitersen and Swann with his bat is Steve Smith openly said that during the last Down Under Ashes Test Ian Bell and Pitersen really got into him.
Australian bowler Merv Hughes sledging England batsman Graeme Hick watched by umpire Mervyn Kitchen during the 2nd Test match between England and Australia at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, 17th June 1993. Australia won by an innings and 62 runs. (Photo by David Munden/Popperfoto/Getty Images)
What is sledging?
The term sledging means verbally insult and intimidate the opposition. The objective of sledging is to mental disintegration of the person who it is aimed at. In cricket, however the reward is in the form of a wicket or a bad ball from the bowlers.
The objective of sledging:
The effects of sledging can be severe which is evident from what happened to Jonathan Trott, the best number three for England in 2013 Ashes, and Graeme Swann during the Ashes Down Under. One left the tour because of depression while the other retired mid tour.
“The art of sledging”
Even there was a book called “the art of sledging” written by J. Holder, which is considered as the bible of sledging. The book is comprised of crude, rude, famous and infamous sledges all paced within the context of the match and rivalries on and off the pitch.
Some of the classics are
Merv Hughes to Graeme Hick: “Mate, if you turn the bat over you’ll find the instruction on the other side.”
Lillie to Gatting: “Hell, Gatt, move out of the way I can’t see the stumps.”
Woodfull to Jardine: “Which one of you bustards called this bustard called this bastard a bastard?”
When Sehwag shocked Michael Clark
“ You are too old, forget it, you need to go,” said a petulant Michael Clark to Sachin.
Sachin had been out of the filed with a minor injury and when he came in to bat , Michael Clark went after him continuously.
This however irritated Sehwag, who walked up to him and asked, “How old are you?”
Clark: “Mate 23.”
Sehwag: “Do you know he has more hundreds than your age! If you want to abuse somenone, see that he is at least of your age and experience.
This however did not Clark and it was only Viru’s clincher that finally shut him up.
Sehwag asked: Your teammate call you pup,right?
Clark replied, “Ya mate.”
Sehwag retorted, “Which breed?”
Clark was subdued and went back to his fielding place.
Epicenter of sledging-Wicketkeeper
1# Epicenter of sledging is the Wicketkeeper supported by the slip fielders because of the proximity to the batsman. Ian Healy- the crudest among the wicketkeepers, sledging once was decoded by the Channel 9 microphones when Arjuna Rantunga called for a runner on a particularly hot night during an ODI match at Sydney: “You don’t get a runner for being an overweight, unfit, fat c*nt!”
2# One of the funny incidents happened in India’s 2010 tour of England between two wicketkeepers. Matt Prior was chatting a lot especially when Dhoni came to bat. Dhoni walked up to himand said, “Matt you are wasting your breath. We get sledged by a billion people everyday back home, you think a few shouts from you will make any difference to me?”
3# During the 1992 world cup India-Pakistan match, Javaded Miandad was miffed by constant shouting Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More , he complained to umpire “human beings are playing not animals,” and after a sharp run out chance, where Miandad closely survives Miandad starts jumping like a frog. A sight of pure comedy.
Sledging for impact:
1# Tony Greg, the England captain, made his most motivational speech of his life during West Indies 1976 tour of England. An arrogant Tony said, “We will make them grovel only.” The cruel paradox is that Tony’s vibe did not instill confidence in his teammates instead motivated the Caribbean batsmen and their formidable pace attack. West Indies did not replied to Tony instead let their performance talk.
The first victim of West Indian anger was Dennis Amiss, who had been hit on the head by Michael Holding while playing for the MCC at the Lord’s.
But it is not the part of cricket folklore, ardent cricket fans remember the iconic incident of the Wisden Trophy. Tony Greg got West Indian fast bowlers going after him. The “Whispering Death” Malcolm Marshall before Tony came was bowling at nice pace of around 85 mph but when Tony came to wicket it went up to about 90 and three bouncer per over. Tony had now option but to leave the pitch getting out son.
Talking about the series at stake, West Indies clinched it before penultimate match at Oval. A generation of British of West Indian were about to celebrate a great triumph.
2# During a 2001/2 Champions trophy match on difficult wicket India was playing Australia at Nairobi. Glenn McGrath was bowling beautifully and India had lost their openers early. Sachin told Sourav that they need to rattle the Aussie bowlers a bit and get a little aggressive or they would quickly take a few more convinced. In the next over he decided to sledge MacGrath. Sachin walked up to McGrath and said, “Which part of the ground do you want me to hit you?” It was a bolt out of the blue for McGrath who was shocked and surprised. This was enough, McGrath stayed and sprayed the next over which let Sachin to hit him for two boundaries. It was matter of one bad over because of which the tide changed, helping the Indians find their rhythm.
Spectators sledged cricketers
(AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND OUT) Cricket fans with faces painted dark brown and wearing afro wigs watch the play from Yabba’s Hill during the Australia v South Africa one-day-series at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), 5 February 2006. SMH Picture by ANDREW MEARES (Photo by Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
Sometime the crudest sledging comes from the crowd instead of the opposition team. Mathew Hayden’s love for cooking is well known. In one of the games he played after the launch of his cookbook, he got sledged by a spectator in the stands who said, “You’re shit Hayden, and so is your chicken casserole.”
Graeme Smith was going through a miserable time in 2006 during India’s tour of South Africa and had got out thrice to Zaheer Khan. At that time he was dating this beautiful South African model called Mink. At Kingsmead ground, Durban where there was a big banner which read, “Forget Zaheer Khan, hope you at least scored with Mink.”
When sledging turned to almost a fight
Sarwan, the West Indies vice-captain was on his way to a match winning second innings century at Antigua in May, 2003,
McGrath: “So what does Brian Lara’s d*ck taste like?”
Sarwan: “I don’t know. Ask your wife.”
McGrath loses in his control:
“If you ever F*&king mention my wife again, I’ll F*cking rip your F*fing throat out.”
Richie Richardson saved Steve Waugh
Caption: The Windies skipper Richie Richardson had a hard time keeping Ambrose from hurting the Aussie at Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1995.
Ambrose repeatedly stared Waugh down during a searing spell, and Waugh, who sized up the towering Ambrose, said: ” What the f*ck are you looking at? ”
Ambrose was stunned because, as Waugh says (in his Autobiography), “no one had ever been stupid enough” to speak to him like that.
Ambrose replied, ” Don’t cuss me, man“, before Waugh’s response, which had nothing to do with bowling.
“Unfortunately, nothing inventive or witty came to mind, rather another piece of personal abuse: ‘Why don’t you go and get f*cked.’ ”
The Windies skipper Richie Richardson had a hard time keeping Ambrose from hurting the Aussie.
When umpires get sledged
Who can forget WG Grace simple complain to umpire. Once in an exhibition match Grace was given out leg-before, he refused to walk and told the umpire; “Play on. They came to watch me bat, not you umpire.”
Sunil Gavaskar was proud successor of WG Grace. Once, the ball knocked off his bail, he set it again, and told the umpire: “ That was the wind which took the bail off, good sir.” The umpire repiles: “Indeed, doctor, and let us hope the wind help the god doctor on the journey back to the pavilion.”
Silence and Ignorance are best weapon to sledging
Steve Waugh loved to talking while batting and he expected same from his opposition. Rahul Dravid, the then wicket-keeper once recollected that verbal volleying was going on during their batting innings. Steve Waugh took special interest. India knew that Australia thrived when one took them on and they knew that in the past whenever Steve Waugh was rubbed the wrong way, he could get motivated enough to go for a big score. For five overs, there was absolute silence. Indian players did not even look at Steve Waugh when crossing him between over. This actually rattled Steve to the extent that he walked up to the wicket-keeper in the next over and said, “Mate are you going to say something or not?”
This is a great example of how not saying anything can sometimes be more impactful than saying something.
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