The ongoing India vs Australia Border-Gavaskar test series has seen both teams indulge in quite a bit of sledging. While some find it funny and take it as good-humoured taunting, many others feel like the present lot of cricketers are crossing the fine line between sledging and insulting.
Cricket, which was once known as the gentleman’s game, seems to have turned into an aggressive battlefield where sledging is becoming a widely accepted norm. Sledging seeped into the psyche of cricketers as shorter-format games like the One-Day Internationals and Twenty20s demanded more of them within shorter time limits, and turned them aggressive.
The Australian cricket team of 1974 were labelled ‘ugly Australians’ because of their aggression both with bat-and-ball and their tongues. Famed Australian fast-bowler Merv Hughes is still regarded as the player who shot off the most brutal sledges.
Since then, in the four decades that followed, subcontinental cricketers too picked up verbal weapons. Rather than letting their skill with the bat and ball do the talking for them, players began taking it upon themselves to do a lot of the talking. There are several infamous incidents that come to mind, when one talks about Team India alone.
For example, Harbhajan Singh’s ‘monkey’ comment aimed at Andrew Symonds is something nobody can forget, especially since the actual word was in Hindi and Symonds misinterpreted it as monkey since they both sounded similar (we’ll let you do the guess work). Parthiv Patel, the sweet-faced cricketer, was also involved in such an incident with Australian great Steve Waugh.
The then wicket-keeper commented on how Waugh would be bowled out soon, and the Aussie promptly responded with: “Respect me, for when I made my debut, you were still in your nappies.” Even Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar was not spared.
In a match against Pakistan, during his younger days, he was slamming Mustaq Ahmed for boundaries. That’s when senior Pakistani player Abdul Qadir taunted Sachin to stop hitting ‘kids’ for boundaries, and to try hitting Qadir’s deliveries instead. Tendulkar, however, took the high road and let his bat do the talking as he smashed Qadir for back-to-back sixers.
Seeing as how sledging has become an integral part of cricket, it is no wonder that the ongoing Border-Gavaskar test series saw its fair share of sledging within the first three test matches itself. Before the fourth test begins tomorrow, lets take a look at the most controversial sledges in the series so far: