Australia’s love for sledging is acceptable but it shouldn’t ruin spirit of the game
Australia’s victory in the first Ashes 2013-14 Test against England in Brisbane at The Gabba has been overshadowed by various sledging incidents, especially the one with Michael Clarke (centre foreground) and James Anderson © Getty Images
Sledging has overpowered Australia’s hard-earned victory in the first Ashes 2013-14 Test with Michael Clarke in the spotlight. Abhijit Banare looks at the cause and why a lot of it could have been avoided.
There are some basic principles that every human tends to deal with frustration. A pressure situation is faced by each and everyone, but each has his or her own limits of absorbing the same and when that [subjective] limit is breached, the individual reacts to pressure more quickly than usual. Australia‘s sledging that overpowered their hard-earned victory in the first Ashes 2013-14 Test is something on similar lines. A win that finally arrived after 10 Tests would have certainly refreshed them. At the same time, it brought excess energy that allowed their emotions to overpower than respecting the opposition.
The entire purpose of sledging is to disturb the concentration of a batsman. And in this case we are talking about sledging James Anderson (a bowler who can hold a bat) with England needing a mountain runs, which could even get them bowled out once again if they tried. Michael Clarke‘s words (or whoever started first) made absolutely no sense as he was already on the cusp of victory. Then what really provoked Clarke to react so quickly to dish out such expletives?
That’s what this little piece started with. Having lost enough number of matches, being questioned about his competency, criticism that possibly surpassed all other previous records; the pressure had piled up on Clarke and on the fourth evening of the Test in Brisbane at The Gabba he burst out.
Sledging has often been like a dark shadow which none of the boards or the International Cricket Council (ICC) is interested in defining and often ends with a few critiquing words in the media before its back to square one. But Clarke’s words made for a great television story… Catching someone off-guard. While the atmosphere around the 22 yards is intense, as viewers, spectators or listeners we enjoy those moments. Maybe Clarke’s comments will go down in Ashes history making it for an engrossing read a few years later. But at the end of it, the entire controversy was easily avoidable.
With regards to the reaction towards sledging, it’s a simple act of provoking someone. And in the present England team, except for Kevin Pietersen, Anderson and Stuart Broad to some extent, the rest aren’t personalities who will get charged up and hurl back more comments on being sledged. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell look composed and intense in their own batting. Joe Root just burst into a laughter when the bowlers, especially Mitchell Johnson, had a go at him in the first Test. This is not one of those England teams, who will go and make over-the-top statements reacting to controversies. Their subdued approach and silence while being hounded by the media in Brisbane is an example that they prefer to keep quiet. Ultimately it takes two hands to clap and Australia need to use their words wisely and appropriately. If they end up using more of it just in the heat of the moment, the respect for their victories will reduce as it is happening now. This spoils the spirit of the game.
While it doesn’t make complete sense of coach Andy Flower to speak to his Australian counterpart Darren Lehmann, because at the end it’s a subjective issue and both teams will have their own say. However, there are boundaries which the teams need to set. Sledging will continue to be part of the game but at the end of the day, if it is being discussed more than the game, then there’s something wrong out there.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)