Obituary: The art of sledging is dead

Dane Eldridge Columnist

By , Dane Eldridge is a Roar Expert

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    The art of sledging has perished underneath a landslide of fatigued quips and peacocking. Out of respect, please turn to the person beside you and tell them to f*** off.

    Also known as ‘chat’, ‘lip’ or the more affectionate ‘mental disintegration’, sledging was pronounced dead after a long battle with the afflicted posturing and faux aggression of the modern game, much like the capers witnessed in Adelaide’s Ashes Test.

    While the artform fought valiantly to remain relevant in its twilight, doctors confirmed the last traces of wit and humour had now left its body.

    Sledging’s last breaths were spent on life support, with those keeping a bedside vigil respectfully lashing it for being ‘shit’ as it trudged off to the sheds of heaven.

    The artform lived an eventful existence, peaking in popularity during the mid-to-late 1900s as intelligent and inoffensive banter, before gradually declining to become an unimaginative shadow of its glory days.

    Prior to its unceremonious death in the custody of today’s generation, sledging took on many incarnations of various acclaim.

    The practice was revered throughout the jaunty jape era of the war, but its reputation began to suffer with the caustic revolution of the ’70s and ’80s when chipper wisecracks intersected with boorish pro-machoism.

    (AAP Image/Darren England)

    The irreversible psychological trauma of the Steve Waugh years confirmed sledging’s annihilation as a light-hearted tactic, along with Merv Hughes farting.

    But ‘mouthing off’ truly became terminal with cricket’s globalisation through T20 and the internet and stuff.

    As intercontinental relationships strengthened and secrets were shared, players became reluctant to deploy obscene and vividly descriptive insults of wives and partners towards their peers. Additionally, technology made them dumb.

    From here, sledging further unravelled to woofing, facial contortions, international caps for Matt Wade and it’s nadir, the abuse of New Zealanders for being too pleasant.

    A domino effect ensued whereby verbal assaults of cricketers began spilling over into different spheres, with some preferring to abuse each other through Christmas bestsellers or by simply beating each other up in nightclubs.

    At this point there was nothing left for the pitch but witless scraps. The art of sledging was officially dead, with only its ghosts remaining to echo through sportsmen’s lunches and former greats desperate for attention on series’ eve.

    It will be buried alongside the follow-on, with the following to appear on the headstone:

    “In affectionate remembrance of sledging, which died in the 21st century. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and wannabe gangsters in flannel. RIP. NB: The remains will be cremated and fined 10 per cent of its match fee.”

    Dane Eldridge
    Dane Eldridge

    Dane was named best and fairest in the 2004 Bathurst mixed indoor cricket competition. With nothing in the game left to achieve, he immediately retired at his peak to a reclusive life ensconced in the velvet of organised contests. Catch the man on Twitter @eld2_0.