What is sledging and what is verbal abuse?
There is no doubt that you can sledge someone without abusing them, but isn't just out and out verbal abuse just abuse: and should be dealt with under that title.
The ICC is on a mission to get sledging out of the game once and for all it seems: this is going to open a whole can of worms to be sure when semantics come into play. It will make the sub-continentals happy though, as it is mainly their disdain for the practice (honourable, as long as they live up to it) that has brought it to a head with the ICC- which of course crumbles quicker than an Indian dust-bowl pitch! This is all a bit hypocritical when India threatened to take their bats and balls home in the 07-08 tour of Australia when Harby got pinged for sledging.
How are the ICC going to govern such an undertaking?
There are already regulations regarding racial vilification- (page 217 of the ICC Playing handbook)
3.3 Using language or gestures that offends,insults,humiliates,intimidates,
threatens,disparages or vilifies another person on the basis of that person’s
race,religion,gender,colour,descent or national or ethnic origin
ICC CODE OF CONDUCT
FOR PLAYERS AND TEAM OFFICIALS
So what exactly are the ICC going after? To me, the above extract reads like it would cover any of the complaints i've heard/read from players that have genuine grounds to take issue over what has been said to them out in the middle.
If the ICC are out to remove every type of on field talk- short of, "Good shot, old chap!" (could that be said sarcastically and not be sledging?) they are removing an important element of sport- GAMESMANSHIP.
Graeme Thorpe recently stated, 'In my third Test match, we were eight down. I'm on 60 not out, batting with the tail. Ian Healy says, "Boys, watch this guy play to get a not out." The pride inside me said, "Stuff this, I'll show you." I charged out to smack [Shane] Warne for a six and got stumped. That was gamesmanship.'
While abusive sledging can be outright vile stuff, another definition of sledging is "verbally distracting to break a players concentration" , and in my opinion this is done best with humour.
Are the ICC out to take away all non play related conversation between sides? Or are they going to expand the rule book to define EXACTLY what players can get away with?
I can see long nights in mediation or tribunal for mere utterances... ridiculous!