Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sledging - II

So, I had promised a qualification of my earlier post on sledging and here it is. (In other posts, I had taken both Afridi and Akhtar to task for their antics on the fourth day - like they care). So, whats acceptable on a cricket ground, and what isn't? I think most cricket fans and players instinctively know what is - and most of their defense of such behavior is, quite simply, defensiveness about their team. Most fans and cricketers don't mind the odd glare, or "a bit of chat" (in the right circumstances, some batsmen will get sucked into it, and even talk back a bit and defuse the tension). Some of the jokes in the slip cordon about the inability of the batsman to get wood on ball, or about how hard a time he is having and so on, are also OK. But when that becomes non-stop, and includes running up to the batsman to indulge in a pantomimed chestbeating, and swearing and spitting, everyone knows the line has been crossed (this list should include sendoffs, which I find particularly problematic). Most defenses that are mounted amount to the usual, "in the heat of the moment", "just a bit excited" and so on. But these seem out of place in a game where there is little or no physical contact, where most action takes place in one burst before the dramatic lines have to be redrawn.

However (here comes the qualification), there is prolonged tension on a cricket field unlike any other sport, and quite often this can make the proceedings out in the middle almost unbearable in their tautness. Tempers fray on fielding sides as well as bowlers yell at fielders (and captains hold heads, and others roll their eyes). In these circumstances, I can understand the burst of temper, directed perhaps at the situation in which the bowler finds himself - but then, this doesn't excuse him using a tantrum merely to unsettle the batsman. That is, I find it more understandable when things are going badly for the fielding team (so perhaps thats an out for the Pakistani team on the fourth day).

Still, tons to be said. Like, why did the Windies never need to sledge in their glory days? Because they always won? Or did they sledge and we never found out because TV coverage just wasn't that crash-hot?

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