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Sledging: It's just not cricket

Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson reacts after dismissing England batsman James Anderson on day 3 of the 2nd Ashes test match between Australia and England at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
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12th December, 2013
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The second Ashes Test match wrapped up on Monday with Australia completing a 218-run victory and taking a 2-0 lead in the series.

However, the match was once again marred by scenes of sledging involving series standout Mitchell Johnson and a number of the dwindling English batting order.

The Australian bowler was involved in a number of incidents with England players, including a verbal altercation with England bowler Stuart Broad at the end of play on the fourth day.

These incidents followed the ugly altercation at the Gabba between Australian captain Michael Clarke and England bowler James Anderson, where Clarke was heard suggesting he might leave with a “broken f***ing arm.”

It’s scenes like these that have caused Sir Ian Chappell, the self proclaimed inventor of sledging, to question the use of sledging, claiming it could result in players ‘belting each other’.

In what Joseph Romanos has described as a classic case of the poacher turned gamekeeper, the ex-Australian captain is now encouraging players to stop sledging claiming it is tarnishing the game.

Cricket officials should heed Chappell’s warning and act quickly on removing this venom from the game.

Sledging – the verbal abuse of opponents to gain an advantage developed in the 1970’s when Ian Chappell and his over-competitive Australian side took to hurling insults and torment at opposing batsmen.

Since then it has been adopted around the world and is now widely accepted in all forms of cricket.

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In all sports it is expected that players use their skill or power to beat out their opponents, however it is now accepted in cricket, a game that supposedly prides itself on its gentlemanly aspects, to do so by hurling abuse and indecent remarks.

And it’s not as though the evidence isn’t there to prove that this is an issue that needs to be nipped in the bud.

In 2003 an incident labelled as ‘toxic’ occurred between Australian bowler Glen McGrath and West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan.

McGrath, who was being pummelled by Sarwan, questioned Sarwan as to what Brian Lara’s d**k tasted like, to which the West Indian replied, “I don’t know, ask your wife.”

This, of course, resulted in a heated argument where McGrath aggressively threatened to rip Sarwan’s throat out.

And it seems that ripping one’s throat out is a common threat made between professional cricketers.

In 2007, Andrew Flintoff made the same threat against Yuvraj Singh in the T20 World Cup match between India and England.

Singh responded better than most batsmen, using his frustration to hit six sixes off Stuart Broad’s next over.

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There is no doubt that these incidents have no place in cricket, or in any sport, and the fact that they are being brushed aside by cricket officials with limited repercussions is bringing the game into disrepute.

As of yet there hasn’t been a sledge that has boiled into a full on brawl.

But with the level of abuse that batsmen are putting up with these days, especially the type that refers to their personal lives, it can’t be long before these verbal remarks become physical.

Many a sports fan are partial to a bit of on-field banter, but resorting to it on an offensive level to gain an advantage is crossing the line and needs to be dealt with.

Why does a sport, so renowned for its gentlemanly qualities, tolerate something that would be worthy of arrest on any street corner?

Cricket officials need to get serious and step in now.

Umpires should be given the power to interfere and deal with sledging if it reaches a level that is affecting the match.

The system that currently deals with bowlers running on the pitch should be implemented.

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Players should be given a verbal warning following their first offence and if they continue, umpires should be given the power to remove players for the remainder of the innings.

Sledging is beginning to take over from the spectacle that is international cricket.

The Ashes are, without doubt, the pinnacle of the game and, like all sporting events, should be remembered for displays of cricketing brilliance, not the idiotic and cowardly act that sledging has become.