In a game of thrones or cricket half the battle is played in the mind. Sledging is nothing but an art of mental disintegration and checkmating your opponent’s nerves through your wit. It is a practice followed on a cricket field with the sole intention of messing around with your combatant’s concentration, resulting him to fumble and under perform.
How to sledge?
The most important ingredient of any sledge is humor. Anything funny is perfect, but anything too serious is despicable. It’s better to be spontaneous, wherein you just drop bomb sarcastically and boom you can penetrate the ranks of the archenemy while he is busy deciphering your remarks and thinking about everything except his game. It’s all about seizing the moment and no one did it better than Australian Merv Hughes. Hands down!
The term sledging was coined by an Australian who swore in the presence of a woman and was described as being a SLEDGEHAMMER. However, the Englishmen propose that after one of their guy’s wife was caught having an affair with Percy Sledge (another team mate) and the opposition made a huge deal out of it on the field; the phrase came into existence.
To roast or not to roast?
This whole idea of a verbal spat is a highly debatable topic, whether it should be practiced in a gentleman’s game or not. Ultimately, it boils down to each and every individual how he perceives it.
According to me, sledging is an integral part of the game as long as it’s not a racist or a personal attack. It is healthy for the sport to survive. It shows that there is a soul in the game and emotions are attached to it. At times, sledging helps in shattering the monotonousness and brings back the crowd on their toes. Look, ours is a competitive world and while competing emotions do tend to out pour. So, let them come out. It’s a sound sign of being involved passionately with the game.
Best example Kohli-Johnson saga in last series. A few sparks here and there between the duo just set the right tempo for the team. Not only it resulted in upgrading their game but the viewers were equally entertained. It brings back the charm, the fun and television ratings .
Let me cite you another example. Why was The Dark Knight so successful? It is because of the fact that the antagonist of the film; the Joker, was a divine force in itself. People just loved their rivalry and the fact that both of them complemented each other. It is good to have the unknown factor being involved in the equation of the game.
Why should players have all the fun?
Forget about the players, even the umpires tend to sledge and get sledged in the spirit of the game. In one of the club cricket games, a tense finish was on the cards due to a number of dropped catches. A plumb was turned down and as the captain inquired about the denial, the umpire replied “If you bastards could catch, this game would be over by now “.
In another incident, this time the referee was on the receiving end. Once Michael Holding was bowling in Australia and he hit the batsman’s pads right in front of the wicket. To which, the umpire declared the batsman as not-out. After the over as Holding took his hat back from the umpire, he looked right into his eyes and snapped “At least you can count to six”.
How the crowd sledges?
The Australian crowd is even more hostile than their players. That’s the reason The Ashes is a highly renowned encounter. Out there it’s war. It is a war against your self- belief, your confidence and your dignity. You have to be strong enough to win it. That’s the real test of your character and he, who passes it makes it to the lists of legends. There have been incidents where in a spectator has made the batsman loose his cool and deceived him to get out.
Stephen Harold Gascoigne known as Yabba was one such an iconic figure in that context. He has a bronze-statue named after him at SCG. Once a batsman was adjusting his L-guard. To that he entertained him with his sarcastic comment “These are the only balls you’ve touched all day” .In the bodyline series Douglas Jardine became pissed with a fly hovering over his hand. After a series of failed attempts to shoo it away Yabba shouted from the stands “Leave our flies alone. They are the only friends you’ve got.”
You won’t believe that a personality like Don Bradman has tried it once. Patrick Patterson to Sir Don Bradman during 1980s in one of the games while Merv Hughes was unbeaten by the Caribbean pace battery -‘You, Don Bradman? You, Don Bradman? I bowl at you. I kill you man.I split you in two!’ Don: You couldn’t even get Merv Hughes out. You’d have no chance against me, mate!’ Nailed it!
If done in a smarter way, sledging works fine but it does backfire if you try acting cocky with an intent to get personal and majorly the Australians have been at the receiving end except for Merv Hughes who did it for fun and was the real MVP. Let me share some of the epic back firings where the envelope not only got pushed, rather exploded.
Mark Waugh: “I remember you from a couple of years ago. You were shit then and you’re fucken useless now!” To which Adam Parore replied, “Yeah that’s me. And I remember you were dating that old, ugly slut. I see you’ve married her now. You dumb cunt”.
McGrath: “Why are you so fat?”
Brandes: “Because every time I fuck your wife, she gives me a biscuit.”
Ian Healy to Ranatunga , “Got your legs shivering?”
Arjuna– “Yes, I am tired after sleeping with your wife.”
There are instances when people have lashed their anger out just because they were either too upset or too quirky to win. This is something I would not appreciate.
In the interest of the game, too much of fucks we ought to chuck.
Mike Whitney: “Stay in your crease or I’ll break your fucken head”.
Ravi Shastri replied: “If you could bowl as well as you talk you wouldn’t be the fucken 12th man!”
Once Fred Trueman was bowling and got an edge from the batsman which went between Row’s legs, who was fielding at slip. At the end of the over, Row runs over to Trueman and says: “Sorry Fred, I should’ve kept my legs closed”. Trueman: “So should your mother”.
Michael Clarke once told England’s Jimmy Anderson to get ready for a broken fucking arm. It was like fucking a hollow body without a soul .How can you frighten a tailender with a bodyline field that too against the most deadly bowler? That’s rape.
Great sledges are the one’s done in the right spirit where not only the duo involved in it loves it but the audience as well. As I leave you all do take a minute out and think about a cricketer’s freedom of speech. Meanwhile, enjoy the rib tickling roasting –
My personal favorites
James Ormond came out to bat in a match with Australia. Mark Waugh, at slip, “What are you doing out here? You’re too shit to play for England!” Ormond replied: “Maybe so, but at least I’m the best player in my family”.
Sangakkara to Pollock during a match in 2003 WC, ” Tons of pressure here for the skipper, yeah? Gonna let his whole country down now if he fails. Oh Lots of expectations fellas. Come on! The weight of all the country’s expectations, 42 million supporters right here depending on Shaun”.
Merv Hughes to Robin Smith: “If you turn the bat over you’ll get the instructions mate”. Rob replied after hitting a boundary, “Hey Merv! We make a good pair. I can’t fucking bat and you can’t fucking bowl”
Rod Marsh: “So how’s your wife and my kids?”
Botham: “Wife’s fine. Kids are retarded”.
References – Why are you so fat? , Gershan Portnoi
PS: Keep calm and sledge gracefully. I’d be pleased to hear some Bakchodi from your end in the comments section.