Can Australian cricket get past sledge mentality?

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    It is fair to say that the recent Australia India Test series failed to live up to the hype. India’s big name batting line-up failed miserably, aside from Zaheer Khan the bowling was poor, and they fielded like a team from the ‘90s.

    The once mighty Australians had been half-destroyed in South Africa, humbled by an amateur-level New Zealand, and all the chatter was that this was India’s best chance of taking down the Australians at home.

    There was also, despite media expectation, very little of the bitterness that marred India’s last campaign down under.

    The absence of mortal enemies Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, the total awe and anticipation of Tendulkar’s pending century of centuries, and a degree of player self-control has hosed down any repeat of the ugliness that probably triggered Australia’s overdue decline from Test supremacy.

    It took a fighting standalone hundred from the feisty Virat Kohli, who had already become a crowd ‘favourite’ in Sydney, to bring out the well suppressed tensions that obviously still exist between the two teams.

    It was an innings that frustrated the Australians, who were anxious to wrap up a series whitewash, and also indicated that the lopsidedness of the series played a huge part in avoiding any reappearance of the ghosts of 2008.

    There is an arrogance that remains inherent in Australian cricket. It’s behind recent surprising successes, and the mature and unselfish leadership of PR dream Michael Clarke.

    A relic of the Steve Waugh “mental disintegration” era, Australian teams turn to sledging when things aren’t going their way. And the line between sledging and abuse continues to blur.

    Do we need sledging? Does it have a place in the modern game? In any game? We look back at ‘great’ sledges from the likes of Merv Hughes, Warney and WG Grace with a vague and misplaced romanticism, but don’t recall nasty incidents such as Lillee-Gavaskar, Slater-Dravid, McGrath-Sarwan or Symonds-Harbhajan so fondly.

    Do we need that sort of example trickling down into state, grade and park cricket, where most players will tell you it can go from humorous to ugly to violent in the blink of an eye?

    In few other sports does this sort of sustained sledging and abuse exist, let alone go frequently unpunished. Bowling a good bouncer, or several plays and misses from an out of sorts batsman, cannot warrant a foul verbal tirade.

    A 200-plus kilometre ace in tennis doesn’t come paired with a personal insult, the slightest taunt in the NBA receives a technical foul and Usain Bolt doesn’t dress down his dust-covered competitors after another 100-metre blow-out.

    It’s unnecessary, futile really. The Aussies are better than that.

    Of course gamesmanship is tolerated and is indeed a part of all sport, but cricket has recovered from its burns and is playing with matches again.

    The Australian team has been so humble under Michael Clarke’s fledgling captaincy and has had concentrated success so far against strong opposition – success that was down to good, honest, and positive cricket.

    I would love to see Clarke’s men claw their way back to the summit of world cricket without the combative, divisive and let’s be honest, Western mentality that made the Australian cricket team of the past so condemned.

    By all accounts India are set to be much more competitive with the colours on: after all, they are world champions, even though that already seems a distant memory.

    The injection of youth for the tourists will be crucial and probably reinvigorate the squad members already here. So with the heat turned up a little, will the Australians maintain their composure the way they have done admirably in victory so far this summer?

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    The Crowd Says (50)

    • February 2nd 2012 @ 7:11am
      Brendon said | February 2nd 2012 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      No way! Cricket needs the sledging! It’s to unsettle a batsmen otherwise you could get mentally fragile players comfortable and scoring big runs because u are too scared to sledge. U picked a few sports that don’t have it. Wat about boxing? The footy codes have plenty of it. It allows you to get a player thinking of something else while you try to take the wicket! It amazes me how some ppl complain about it wen there is different ways to Go about it. Ppl never used to sledge some west Indians because it fired them up! Whereas some English players were more vulnerable

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    • Roar Guru

      February 2nd 2012 @ 8:17am
      Sam Brown said | February 2nd 2012 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      It is strange that one century was cause for the aussies to sledge while two doubles and a triple did not cause the indians to lose their heads.

      • February 2nd 2012 @ 9:11am
        formeropenside said | February 2nd 2012 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        You’re right, the doubles and triples caused India to drop their heads instead.

      • February 2nd 2012 @ 12:05pm
        Jimbo said | February 2nd 2012 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

        I hardly think the absolutely pathetic capitulation shown by the Indians (both the bowlers and their incredibly lazy effort in the field) during the Clarke/Pointing innings should be in any way praised, no matter how indirectly. Although they were totally outplayed, the way they meekly surrendered was disgraceful.

    • February 2nd 2012 @ 8:19am
      Swampy said | February 2nd 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Poor poor article. Lillee Gavaskar incident? C’mon! Might want to revisit that one – possibly may have involved another country…
      Regardless, sledging is fun and part of sport in general. An edge might exist as much between the ears as it does physically.
      NBA no sledging??? Think you are confusing abusing the referee when referring to technical fouls – also physical contact or threats to contact incur tech fouls. Sledging does however not. In fact sledging in American sports is far worse – particularly the NBA – than in any other country.

      What isn’t condoned is racially insulting remarks and physical violence.

      There is nothing wrong with asking the opener if he requires a wider bat in order to actually nick something from the bowler after playing and missing 4 balls in a row. Nor is it an issue when the batsman then dispatches the next delivery to the boundary from the middle of the bat and suggests that he will ‘keep this bat as it seems pretty good to me’.


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    • February 2nd 2012 @ 8:26am
      Viscount Crouchback said | February 2nd 2012 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      “Australian teams turn to sledging when things aren’t going their way”.

      I’m not so sure about that. I would suggest that Australian teams turn to sledging when things ARE going their way, just to rub it in a little. They soon pipe down when they are on the back foot, as we saw during the Ashes (Perth aside).

      • February 2nd 2012 @ 11:08am
        jameswm said | February 2nd 2012 @ 11:08am | ! Report

        I was going to make this point too VC. Aussie teams sledge regardless of how they are going.

        It’s just that the media only pays attention in certain circumstances.

      • Roar Guru

        February 2nd 2012 @ 3:48pm
        The_Wookie said | February 2nd 2012 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

        this isnt just true of cricket. Its the nature of most Australians sportsmen to point out the reasons they are winning/losing or to try and distract their foes/friends from winning. Id suggest its the way most australian males play sport.

    • February 2nd 2012 @ 8:34am
      Red Kev said | February 2nd 2012 @ 8:34am | ! Report

      Depends on the sledging really.
      I think trash talk is fine – such as the classic big Merv’s I’ll bowl you a piano, see if you can play that.
      The bowler and the batsman are involved in a contest. Some people stare, others trash talk, some hold silent. That’s all fine.
      But snide personal remarks floated at the batsman from short leg, silly point or the slips cordon (a Waugh and Ponting speciality) are out of line. An uninvolved party chiming in is unwarranted (was it Hilfenhaus doing this during a Siddle over? completely unnecessary). The rest of the field can encourage the bowler not snipe at and jeer the batsman – leave that to the drunken louts on the hill.

    • February 2nd 2012 @ 8:53am
      sledgeross said | February 2nd 2012 @ 8:53am | ! Report

      In any form of cricket, if a batsman nearly runs himself out trying to get a hundred, of course the opposition will remind him of the pressure he is under. Banter will always be part of the game. Personal insults and racial taunts should never be however.
      As long as they Aussies dont cross the line, then they are grown men making a heap of cash playing a sport they love, its all air in love and war.

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