The campaign for real sledging – or why there is a problem with moronic chatter

I have a confession.  I quite enjoy a little sledging.  If the fielding team decide to criticise my batting technique (and I give them plenty of scope for that!) I am generally quite happy to play along.

There is no point getting annoyed, or distracted.  A quick response and, 99 times out of 100, back to the game.

As a bowler, I see nothing wrong in letting a batsman know when I think he is lucky still to be at the crease.

And it is a game (at Club level) and I really believe that a little banter doesn’t hurt it.

For the pros, I guess there is “mental disintegration” as deployed by the Aussies (when they were good enough to win without resorting to this, but played the game any way).

I do believe there is a place for “verbals”on the cricket pitch.

But that does not include the inappropriate, unfunny, just plain boorish chatter, that we sometimes have to endure in the name of “sledging”.

My own pet hates and worst “sledges”

  • “He’s only got one shot” or “he can only play {insert stroke here}” – especially, as I heard it recently, to a batsman who had just cut three consecutive long hops to the boundary, and missed a fourth…what stroke would you like?
  • “more blocks than Lego” – (possibly) funny once, but not any more.
  • “wicket ball!”
  • “your man”
  • and anything with “buddy”…

There is definitely a place for motivation of teammates, but even this can sometimes sink into inanity.  Generic crowd noise motivates no-one, when it drifts in from a lonely outfielder!

So, what might help?

Trigger words, if the team uses them.

Anything likely to encourage focus, and attention to the game.

  • “stick to the plan” (although this is to be avoided if it might confuse your opening bowler, who never pays attention during the team talk, and won’t know what the plan is…)
  • “top of off (stump)” or whatever line seems most appropriate for the situation or the batsman on strike
  • “same again, don’t change a thing” (after a particularly good delivery – not so helpful if the last ball was hit to the boundary…unless it was an unintentional or uncontrolled stroke, in which case a repeat might be a good thing).

Please not “wicket ball” – what else is the bowler trying to do?

I can no better than quote the Laws.

It is against the Spirit of the Game:…

(c) to seek to distract an opponent either verbally or by harassment with persistent clapping or unnecessary noise under the guise of enthusiasm and motivation of one’s own side

4. The Spirit of the Game involves RESPECT for:

Your opponents

Your own captain

The roles of the umpires

The game’s traditional values

5. It is against the Spirit of the Game:

To dispute an umpire’s decision by word, action or gesture

To direct abusive language towards an opponent or umpire

To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice, for instance:

(a) to appeal knowing that the batsman is not out

(b) to advance towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing

(c) to seek to distract an opponent either verbally or by harassment with persistent clapping or unnecessary noise under the guise of enthusiasm and motivation of one’s own side

Published by Andrew Beaven

Cricket coach, fascinated by the possibilities offered by the game. More formally - ECB level 2 cricket coach; ECB National Programmes (All Stars & Dynamos Cricket) Activator Tutor; Chance to Shine & Team Up (cricket) deliverer; ECB ACO umpire.

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