Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Not Quite Cricket?

Cricket is no longer a quiet gentleman's game played on the village green or in the gullies of India or on the pristine beaches of the Caribbean.

Modern cricket is chirpy, to say the least. Traditionalists may not like the fact, but sledging in cricket is very much part of the modern game. Sledging is essentially insulting the opposition during the game in an attempt to distract them. It is most commonly used by the bowler, wicket-keeper or other members of the fielding team to wind up the batsmen who are relatively isolated amongst opposition players.

The Australians are renowned as the inventors of sledging and are certainly the nation that introduced the practice to international cricket. Other nations have been slower to respond – the likes of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in particular initially resisted the trend but in more recent years have adopted the practice also. The debate over sledging will doubtless continue. Some argue that it oversteps the mark of gamesmanship into a form of aggression that the game can do without, whilst others see it as an accepted and often entertaining part of competitive cricket. Sample these...

What is certain is some sledging insults will go down in cricket folklore. Here are the some of the Good, Bad and the Ugly Sledges…

Have a look at how how the Aussies have copyrighted the art of sledging … mental disintegration anyone?

1. Rod Marsh & Ian Botham: When Botham took guard in an Ashes match, Marsh welcomed him to the wicket with the immortal words: "So how's your wife & my kids?"

2. Glenn McGrath & Eddo Brandes: In a showdown of best pacers of two countries, Brandes made up for his complete absence of batting skills by some displaying some great sense of humor and presence of mind. Aussie paceman Glenn McGrath was bowling to Zimbabwe number 11 Eddo Brandes - who was unable to get his bat anywhere near the ball. McGrath, frustrated that Brandes was still at the crease, wandered up during one particular over and inquired:"Why are you so fat?"

Quick as a flash, Brandes replied: "Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit."

Even the Aussie slip fielders were in hysterics

Here’s a real ugly one…

3. Glenn McGrath & Ramnaresh Sarwan: The West Indies vice-captain, and the Aussie pace spearhead went toe-to-toe in an ugly shouting match in Antigua in May 2003, The incident was sparked after Sarwan, on his way to a match-winning second-innings century, reportedly reacted to lurid taunts from McGrath by telling him he should get the answers from his wife, who was recovering from radiation therapy for secondary cancer.
GM: "So what does Brian Lara`s d*ck taste like?"
RS: "I don`t know. Ask your wife."
GM(losing it): "If you ever f**king mention my wife again, I`ll f**king rip your f**king throat out."

And here’s another ugly one…

4. Steve Waugh & Curtky Ambrose: Steve Waugh lifted the lid on his most famous sledging incident - his confrontation with West Indian paceman Curtly Ambrose in 1995. The episode in Trinidad has gone down as a turning point in a series that began Australia's era of modern domination. The diluted version of what Waugh said to Ambrose would have it that he incensed Ambrose by saying: "Just you bowl." The truth is out in Waugh's autobiography, and the real words spoken were something less clever, and less clean. Ambrose repeatedly stared Waugh down during a searing spell, and Waugh, who sized up the towering quick, said: "What the f**k are you looking at?"

Ambrose was stunned because, as Waugh says, "no one had ever been stupid enough" to speak to him like that. Ambrose replied, "Don't cuss me, man", before Waugh's response, which had nothing to do with bowling.

"Unfortunately, nothing inventive or witty came to mind, rather another piece of personal abuse: 'Why don't you go and get f**ked."

6. Merv Hughes & Viv Richards during a test match in the West Indies, Hughes didn't say a word to Viv, but continued to stare at him after deliveries. "This is my island, my culture. Don't you be staring at me. In my culture we just bowl." Merv didn't reply, but after he dismissed him he announced to the batsman: "In my culture we just say f**k off."

7. Ian Healy & Arjuna Ranatunga: Ian Healy his legendary comment which was picked up by the Channel 9 microphones when Arjuna Ranatunga called for a runner on a particularly hot night during a one dayer in Sydney... "You don't get a runner for being an overweight, unfit, fat c**t!!!"

8. Ian Healy / Shane Warne & Arjuna Ranatunga: Yet another Australian witticism... this time against Sri Lankan batsman Arjuna Ranatunga the victim. Shane Warne, trying to tempt the batsman out of his crease mused what it took to get the plump character to get out of his crease and drive. Wicketkeeper Ian Healy piped up, "Put a Mars Bar on a good length. That should do it."

9. Mark Waugh & James Ormond: James Ormond had just come out to bat on an ashes tour and was greeted by Mark Waugh.
MW : "F**k me, look who it is. Mate, what are you doing out here, there's no way you're good enough to play for England"
JO : "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my family"

10. Mark Waugh & Adam Parore: Mark Waugh standing at second slip, the new player (Adam Parore) comes to the crease playing and missing the first ball.
MW: "Oh, I remember you from a couple years ago in Australia. You were sh*t then you're f**king useless now".
AP: (Turning around) "Yeah, that's me and when I was there you were going out with that old, ugly sl*t and now I hear you've married her. You dumb c*nt."

11. Denis Lillee & Mike Gatting: Australian pace bowler Lillee stopped on his run up to Gatting in the opening match on England’s 1994-95 tour to deliver the immortal: "Hell, Gatt, move out of the way. I can't see the stumps."

12. Dennis Lillee & Sunil Gavaskar: Dennis Lillee and Sunil Gavaskar, were involved in a war of words in the 3rd Test, MCG, February 1981. A historic win for India in that Test would definitely not have taken place had Sunil Gavaskar not calmed down. He clashed with Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee, who Gavaskar claims abused him after claiming his wicket and the Indian captain asked non-striker Chetan Chauhan to walk off the field, forfeiting the match. Gavaskar was batting on 70 when Lillee appealed for a leg before decision. Gavaskar showed his bat to the umpire, indicating he had 'nicked' the ball before it hit his pads. Angry words were exchanged between the batsman and the bowler, and Lillee even went to the extent of pointing to the batsman the spot where the ball had his pads. The decision went in favour of the bowler and as Gavaskar started his long, dejected walk back to the pavilion, Lillee turned around and abused him. That was it. Gavaskar snapped, and decided to forfeit the match. Later, Gavaskar was to write in his book 'Idols': "That (the walkout) was the most regrettable incidents of my life. Whatever may be the provocation and whatever the reason, there was no justification for my action and I realize now that I did not behave the way a captain and sportsman should."

13. Steve Waugh & Herschelle Gibbs: Perhaps the most famous sledge in a World Cup match took place the epic Super Six clash between Australia and South Africa (in 2003). South Africa looked on course to a routine victory with Australian captain Steve Waugh at the crease and on 56. At that stage, Waugh clipped the ball in the air straight to South African fielder Herschelle Gibbs. In his haste, Gibbs dropped the ball when attempting to throw it in the air in celebration as he had not fully controlled it. As he passed him, Waugh is said to have asked Gibbs: "How does it feel to have dropped the World Cup?" Waugh carried on to make an unbeaten 120 and Australia posted an unlikely win and won the World Cup a few days later. Waugh has however denied that quote, instead claiming that he said "looks like you`ve dropped the match, mate!"

Here's another one from the usual suspects - Waugh and Healy..

Even the Aussie fans get into the act…

14. Aussie fan & Phil Tufnell - Fielding on the boundary whilst on tour in Australia, England spinner felt the sledging wit of an Australian spectator: “Tufnell! Can I borrow your brain? I’m building an idiot.”

Next four are Aussies getting a strong dose of their own medicine!

15. Ravi Shastri & an Aussie 12th man: Shastri hits it to this guy and looks for a single...this guy gets the ball in and says "if you leave the crease I'll break your f***ing head" Shastri: "if you could bat as well as you can talk you wouldn't be the f***ing 12th man!"

16. Malcolm Marhall & David Boon: Malcolm Marshall was bowling to David Boon who had played and missed a couple of times. Marshall: "Now David, Are you going to get out now or am I going to have to bowl around the wicket and kill you?"

18. Robin Smith & Merv Hughes during 1989 Lords Test Hughes said to Smith after he played& missed:"You can't f**king bat". Smith to Hughes after he smacked him to the boundary: "Hey Merv, we make a fine pair. I can't f**king bat & you can't f**king bowl."

And now a few true classics!

19. Fred Trueman & Raman Subba Row: The batsman edges and the ball goes to first slip,and right between Raman Subba Row's legs. Fred doesn't say a word. At the end of the over, Row ambles past Trueman and apologises sheepishly. "I should've kept my legs together, Fred". "So should your mother" he replied.

Here's another one from Trueman...

Another classic… but am not sure if this pair is rightly credited for this exchange!

20. Ricky Ponting & Shaun Pollock (?): After beating the bat with a couple of deliveries, Pollock told Ponting: "It's red, round & weighs about 5 ounces." Ponting hammered the next ball out of the ground and retorted: "You know what it looks like, now go find it."

A master class where a champion shows how one responds to a sledging…

21. Abdul Qadir & Sachin Tendulkar: The year was 1989, the little master had recently made his debut in Pakistan. Sachin not even old enough to get a driving license Sachin Tendulkar was facing the best bowlers in the business. As the Pakistani crows jeered and mocked Sachin holding out the placards saying "Dudh Pita Bhachcha ..ghar jaake dhoodh pee", Sachin sent the then young leg spinner Mustaq Ahmed ducking for cover, hitting him two sixes in one over.

The frustaded mentor of Mustaq Ahmed, the legendary Abdul Qadir challenged Sachin saying "Bachchon ko kyon mar rahe ho? Hamein bhi maar dikhao... "

Sachin was silent... since then we all have come to know that he lets his bat do the talking. Abdul Quadir had made a simple request and Sachin obliged, and how! Sachin hit 4 sixes in the over, making the spinner look like the bachha in the contest. The over read 6, 0, 4, 6 6 6 - a legend was born!

And finally the standout cases...

22. Javed Miandad relished provocation. No batsman looked more relaxed, more self-amused than Miandad. Even Viv Richards - there was a high-strung energy to his swagger. Miandad sauntered to the centre like he was already 180 not out; he'd chat, he'd sing, he'd jest and joke. Of his 271 at Eden Park in February 1989, John Wright described him as batting as though "sitting on a sofa in his front room". Ian Smith recalled him turning at one point to chirp: "Nice day today. Would be a lot nicer for you boys at the beach."

He'd pick on Dilip Doshi, for instance, charging down the wicket then dead-batting him, hissing contemptuously: "I should have hit that for six!" He persecuted the slow-moving Doshi in the field, too, calling as he hit to him: "Come on, there's two! It's only Doshi!" And who can forget the first Monkeygate in Cricket where Miandad rubbed Indian Wicketkeeper the Kiran More up the wrong way in a 1992 World Cup game by acrobatically imitating over-enthusiastic More!(16th Match: India v Pakistan, Benson & Hedges World Cup, Sydney, March 4, 1992)

22. Harbhajan Singh & Symonds - Monkeygate: For the benefit of those who came in late, here’s the transcript of the conversation that took place in the middle that fateful day:
Symonds: We don’t need it, do it to your teammates (on Harbhajan patting Brett Lee on his back with his bat)
Harbhajan: Audio inaudible
Symonds: Don’t yell, go and yell at your teammates
Harbhajan: Audio inaudible
Symonds: (First part inaudible) what monkey, big monkey, you don’t know what you’ve said.
Hayden: You know this is a S*** word, this is racial vilification. This is the second time you’re doing this
Hayden: You don’t know what you have done.
Harbhajan: Audio inaudible
(Audio inaudible when Sachin tries to calm things down)
Ponting to Harbhajan: (First part inaudible) You have had it, you’ve had it, mate!
Harbhajan to Ponting: He started it, not me.
(Audio inaudible when Ponting goes to Bucknor)
(Audio inaudible when Benson is talking to Harbhajan. Lip movement suggests Benson saying, “Did you say it?”)
Harbhajan: (Audio inaudible but lip movement suggests) “No, no, I didn’t say that, I didn’t say anything.”

Timelines: (Kids, this is why you shouldn't try this at home!)
Jan. 4, 2008: Harbhajan Singh is charged under Level 3 of the ICC Code of Conduct following an alleged “monkey” comment directed at Andrew Symonds.
Jan. 5: India deny racist abuse as the hearing is deferred till the end of the second Test.
Jan. 6: Match referee Mike Procter upholds the Australians’ complaint and bans Harbhajan for three Tests.
Jan. 7: The BCCI appeals the ban. The ICC says an appeals commissioner will be appointed to hear the case.
Jan. 8: The BCCI working committee meeting in New Delhi decides to continue with the tour but says it will carry on its battle to clear Harbhajan.
Jan. 9: ICC appoints Justice John Hansen to hear the appeal of Harbhajan.
Jan. 10: Players want Harbhajan issue settled before Perth Test, even as Hansen is yet to fix a date for the hearing.
Jan. 11: BCCI chief Sharad Pawar says the threat of India pulling out of the tour was real if the ban on Harbhajan was not lifted
Jan. 14: Captain Anil Kumble and the BCCI withdraw the charge against Brad Hogg. The left-arm spinner admitted calling Kumble and Mahendra Singh Dhoni a b****** in the SCG Test.
Jan. 22: Former BCCI president Inderjit Singh Bindra arrives in Adelaide to engage himself in behind-the-scenes “negotiations” with the CA chairman, Creagh ’Connor.
Jan. 28: The ICC asks Channel 9 for the stump microphone transcripts.
Jan. 29: The ICC clears Harbhajan of racial abuse. The 3-Test ban is lifted and he’s fined 50 per cent of his match fee.

Apparently what Harbhajan had said was "Teri Ma Ki..." and Symonds and Hayden mistook it as "Monkey". For the uninformed, this means "Your mother's..." :) Harbhajan Singh has since been absolved of racism charges, one question begs to be answered of Symonds - Why did feel so offended when Bhajji patted Lee on the backside?

23. Sreesanth: Sreesanth is a strange character. He is the guy who can dish it out but can't take it. Just a couple of years in cricket and he had the gall to sledge even Tendulkar, Dravid and Sehwag. When he did that to Harbhajan and got slapped for it what did Mr Somebody Sledge-Everyone Sreesanth do? He cried! And then he cried some more. He blubbered and slobbered all over his team mates' shirts. Maybe he for one, should never read this blog post lest he gets inspired for future antics!

Maybe Mathew Hayden had a point when he called Sreesanth "a particularly over-rated bowler." Despite the numerous warning from the ICC, BCCI,his home board and even his own team members, the "Kochi Express" seems to never turn a new leaf...