Sledging war makes mockery of the Ashes battle

Sledging war makes mockery of the Ashes battle

by Alan Flook

London | 10 Feb 2014 | Sledging Videos

Once again, matches between Australia and England are being talked about because of the verbal nonsense rather more than the cricket itself.

Banter vs Sledging

Let’s get a couple of definitions out of the way – Banter is a playful and friendly exchange between players and is certainly done to gain an advantage but, rather more relevant, it is engaged in as vaguely amusing chat between opponents who are also, normally, friends off the field.

Sledging is insulting and/or verbally abusing comments, either directly addressed or made loud enough for the target to hear. It is meant to upset the target and stop him/her playing to their potential. It is usually indulged in by the intellectually challenged who haven’t got the wit to say anything amusing. The major worry is that the current crop of Test players regard it as normal and cite historic precedents – ‘so and so did it so it is OK’ or ‘it’s a part of the game’.

Impact on viewing public

The use of stump mikes in some International games puts so much of it into the public domain and demeans the sport. I know we will never go back to the days when such nonsense didn’t happen (did those days ever exist?), but surely some yardstick must be established. In my many years as an umpire, at a decent level, we had a fair bit of banter but sledging was a rarity and gently stamped on. The players knew we had a greater armoury if gentle stamping wasn’t effective.

One occasion stands out in my memory where we had a game, between teams who knew each other well, and there were a lot of verbal exchanges. The vast majority of these were quite witty and brought a smile to my face. One of the players I had known for years started to get concerned at the regularity of the banter and asked me how he would know where I drew the line.

My response seemed to satisfy him – I just said ‘when I stop smiling’.

I just hope the authorities, at all levels, heed the warning and don’t let our lovely game descend even further into the morass. Let’s just play good, hard, competitive, cricket.


About the Author:

Alan Flook retired from umpiring in 2012 after 23 years in the Middlesex County Cricket league and a few years on the County Second Eleven list. More recently he was an umpire tutor, preparing new umpires for their exams and is presently an assessor as part of the umpire grading process. He is the current Chairman of the Middlesex knockout cricket cup.



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