Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sledging

I'm watching this fingerwagging fest underway in Australia as former players and umpires light into the Aussies for 'bad behavior'. I've disliked players that "carry on like a porkchop" myself in the past, so before I comment on this episode, let me start by posting something that I wrote a while ago (and I'll then qualify it in my next post):

Players are human beings and the cricket pitch is just a piece of ground set a certain distance from fences, roads, shops i.e., the rest of the world. There is nothing holy or sacrosanct about a cricket pitch or the rest of the ground such that the emotional impact of words said out there is lessened. If you call someone a f___ing c___t, it will have the same impact as if you said it at the train station. The awareness of potential penalties prevents players from getting into a brawl but that is about it; just because one does not take place it does not mean that the people involved have not been affected. I played Northern Suburbs cricket for two years in Sydney and there was a clear demarcation in the kinds of relationships we had with opposing teams. Those that sledged a lot were a bunch of c___t's and we would not dream of having a drink after the game with them. So whatever happened to the Aussie ideal of "shake hands, go have a beer?" When you sledge, people remember, and they bear grudges. The mythical healing quality of the handshake after the game is much overrated.

Sledging is not just a bit of a chat. Very little of what gets said on cricket fields is friendly banter in the way that sledging's apologists imagine. How can it be banter, when most of it consists of snide comments made to your teammates about the opponent? Plenty of the comments are insulting, abusive, downright derogatory, and simply out of place on a cricket field.

Furthermore, if the defense is that "a little chatter" helps to test the batsman's mental resolve, why do we need the obnoxious sendoff?

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