The Aussies adopted a rather unconventional approach to unsettle their opponents. Sledging got attention in the early 60’s although the reason behind the term remains unclear. Over the years it has evolved from a man losing his temper to a full scale strategy in team meetings. So the question is, do the Aussies have bad sportsmanship? I say, no. Hell no. We don’t call it test cricket for no reason. A test of mind and body that’s what the test in test cricket means. Many successful cricketers in the International ODI scene haven’t been successful in test cricket. Players like Yuvraj Singh, Mohd Hafeez haven’t really fired in test cricket. The reason being, Test cricket involves a lot of patience, resilience, fitness both mental and physical, composure, concentration and mental integrity. Everything else comes with practice, but mental integrity depends on the present situation. The human mind is amazing. A man’s performance is greatly affected by whether or not he believes in himself. An attempt to attack this part of the mind is smart. Not poor sportsmanship.
Parthiv Patel VS Steve Waugh:
Parthiv: Come on, just one more of your slog sweeps before you finish.
Waugh: Respect me, 18 years back when I made my debut you were still in your nappies.
Now that encounter didn’t unsettle Waugh one bit. But it definitely would have bugged the 19 year old baby-faced Parthiv Patel.
In my opinion the best sledgers of all time were without doubt the Aussies and my personal favorite, Merv Hughes. The Australian cricket team has always been an aggressive and gelled unit that has always backed its talents and players. Usually captains have a fast bowler as their prime sledger. Ricky Ponting had Peter Siddle and Steve Waugh had Merv Hughes. Big man Merv had the looks of the leader of a biker crew and his signature Handle bar moustache only added the fear factor.
Here are some anecdotes of Big Man Merv in the giving, as well as the receiving end.
1) Graham Gooch
Merv was getting past the outside edge of Gooch consistently but was unable to find that nick. He walked up to Gooch and yelled, “Would you like me to bowl a piano and see if you can play that?”
Merv succeeded in trashing the already low self-confidence of Gooch and went to claim his wicket in the next over.
2) Javed Miandad
Pakistani bad boy tried to sledge Merv by calling him a fat bus conductor. Merv soon had his moment when he dismissed Miandad and on his way back yelled, “Tickets please.”
3) Robin Smith
In the 1989 ashes series, Robin Smith was struggling to make contact with Merv’s out swingers. Merv frustrated over not being able to get the edge: “If you turn the bat over you’ll get the instructions mate.”
Overs later, Merv still couldn’t find the edge and he snapped. “ You can’t f*****g bat.” Next ball Smith proceeded to belt Hughes to the fence for four runs and replied: "Hey Merv! We make a good pair. I can't f*****g bat and you can't f*****g bowl!”
4) Hansie Cronje
During an exhibition game in RSA, Cronje was slamming Merv all over the park on an exceptionally flat wicket. A lot of boundaries later, Merv walks up to Cronje and lets out a huge fart. Merv added “Now hit that for a six.”
Sometimes verbal abuse isn’t just enough. Apparently play was stopped for 5 minutes as the pitch was filled with laughter and bad odour.
5) Viv Richards
During a test match in Jamaica, Merv didn’t utter a word, instead just stared at home boy Viv after every delivery. Viv lost his temper and yelled, “Don’t be staring at me, mon. This is my island, my culture. And in my culture, we just bowl. To which Merv replied “In my culture, we just say f**k off”.
The rest of the Aussies haven’t been far behind too. Just to make it fair I’m just gonna give a few anecdotes where the Aussies were beaten at their own game.
Glenn McGrath VS Sarwan
McGrath: What does Lara’s c**k taste like?
Sarwan: I don’t know. Ask your wife.
Glenn McGrath VS Eddo Brandes
McGrath: Why are you so fat?
Eddo: Because, every time I make love to your wife, She gives me a biscuit.
Shane Warne VS Darryl Cullinan
Warne: I’ve been waiting for two years for another chance at you.
Cullinan: Looks like you spent it eating.
Rod Marsh VS Ian Botham
Marsh: How are your wife and my kids?
Botham: The wife is fine but the kids are retarded.
Mike Whitney VS Ravi Shastri
Mike: If you leave the crease, I’ll f*****g break your head.
Shastri: If you can bowl as well as you talk, you wouldn’t be the f*****g 12th man.
The Aussies not only give but also receive. Receive quite a lot. For something more recent look up YouTube for the James Anderson and Mitchell Johnson incident.
The conclusion. There are many ways to get a batsman out. Bowl an excellent delivery or just get under his skin. The Aussies have done that and other countries have now started to adopt this. So instead of blaming the Aussies, thank them for making test cricket more interesting. Cheers.