The Ashes have always been a tightly fought contest between the Australians and the English cricket teams. In a high-voltage series like this, sledging has always played an important part. This time around too, Aussie skipper Steve Smith described English bowler James Anderson as ‘one of the biggest sledgers in the game’ while England said that they were unhappy about comments aimed at Jonny Bairstow in the first test. We ask cricketers and sportsmen how important sledging is for the game and where does one draw the line, not letting it cross over to inappropriateness.
‘Foreign players have a peculiar liking for sledging’
Sledging is common in cricket these days, and while it could always happen in the heat of the moment, there are occasions when a team does it intentionally, especially to break a particular batsman or bowler in his zone. In an Indian context, it is not as regular as it is with foreign players, because the latter are a lot more expressive. From when I played the IPL, I could see that foreign players have a peculiar liking for sledging, and they have a knack of getting their point across, often by using quite harsh words. It works for them.
– Raiphi Vincent Gomez, former Kerala Ranji Trophy captain
‘Sledging crosses the line when a cricketer is targeted on a personal level ’
Cricket has now moved into a very aggressive phase and sledging is used as a tactic depending on the match situations. And this (sledging) is not used against every cricketer — only the hot-minded ones are targeted. When they’re facing constant bullying, it might get to their nerves and they might play a shot which they are not supposed to. I feel that sledging crosses the line when a cricketer is targeted on a personal level. I also strongly feel that a modern-day cricketer doesn’t necessarily need to sledge; one can be calm, composed and still make a difference on the field.
– Nilesh Subramanian, cricketer
‘Sledging is just a way of waging psychological warfare against the opponents’
The term sledging has taken on a very negative connotation, but what it really is, is banter between players. Cricket is a slow-paced game, as compared to football or hockey. Sledging is just a way of waging psychological warfare against the opponents during the gaps between overs. However, if it gets aggressive or abusive, then that’s crossing a line. The Aussies, especially tend to get a little rough, and I think that’s avoidable. Otherwise, it depends on the personality of the cricketer — some scowl, some swear and some use witty one-liners. It’s all fine as long as you don’t get too aggressive.
– Ayaz Memon, Sports commentator and columnist.
‘It’s the case of the kettle calling the pot black when the Aussies talk about sledging’
It’s the case of the pot calling the kettle black when the Aussies talk about sledging. They have given different names to sledging down the years — mental disintegration, colourful banter, etc., where the focus was always on riling the opposition and winning at all costs. Cricket, as a game, is poetry in motion and the charm of the game is the skills and the banter, which shouldn’t cross the line. However, the T20 leagues across the world have played a major role in bringing cricketers from different nationalities together, making all of them global cricketers bringing down sledging to a great extent.
– Shekhar Vijayan, author and motivational speaker