Tuesday, 9 December 2008

"are you being sarcastic?"

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

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!

stoph verismo


  1. I don't think it will be as dramatic as you say Stoph. According to 3.3 you provide there is no reason a person can't comment on a player's ability or (for eg) weight. Healy to (I think) Warne about (again I think) Ranatunga; "just put a mars bar just short of a good length, that should do the trick" or "you don't get a runner for being a fat, slow, unfit c@%t". It's the personal stuff like McGrath got so upset about but that was a timing issue as much as anything due to his wife's illness. I don't think we'll see the removal of cracking comments; whether funny to all involved or not. It's a great weapon; once when I was batting a bloke at gully told me how I was going to get out (I was on 50) and the next ball I did exactly as he described; I'd let him inside my head. We can't lose the psychological element to the greatest sport on Earth; it'd be too boring otherwise!

  2. that is the gamesmanship i was talking about leftrightout; the stuff that needs to be preserved. i love that psychological element... even when much of the world baulks at it... it depends on what/and how it is said.

    i hope you are right, and that i'm worried about nothing, but it seems to me that the ICC is on a (sub continental driven) mission to eradicate all (non play) talk within a match.
    of course if this is the case -as most international umpires, and players speak english [the unifying factor of the game] all talk in Urdu, Hindi, Senegalese and any other of the multitude of languages used on the subcontinent should be banned. which, of course is not fair to those players that were brought up without access, or regular use of english. so can the ICC keep it fair?

    surely a sledge is only effective if the other person (most likely the batsman) knows what is said? not necessarily if someone passes comment and the rest of the field start laughing.

    the Mars bar on a good length is one of my favourites! And if Ranatunga was a decent bloke [he mustn't be given soooo many Aussie players rate him as a... difficult player!], even he would have seen the funny side of that!

    i truly hope we don't lose this element of the game... hence why i'm vocal about it.

    thanks for including a personal account Leftriteout, it gives every discussion so much more credence.