Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sledging is "unfair play" - the umpires must stop it.

Sledging is an admission of failure. It says that we can't win within the laws of the game of cricket or by our own skills and effort. So we'll play "mind games" and try and get the batsman out by abusing and mocking him. I don't care that sledging is as old as the game. It is wrong. I don't care that some see it just as "banter" and a legitimate tactic or that it is part of the fanciful nonsense that is "mental disintegration". It is still wrong. In no other sport is it acceptable personally to abuse an opponent. And cricket is the sport that congratulates itself about its "Spirit" - abject nonsense.

So if Jimmy Anderson is a serial Sledger that reduces him in my mind as a cricketer and a man. And if this led to the altercation with Ravindran Jadeja at Trent Bridge then it is most regrettable. Jimmy is a fine bowler - and as we saw at Trent Bridge no mean batsman either. He is a brilliant fielder in any position. When fit, which he mostly is, he has to be the first name on any England team sheet. He doesn't need to sledge and it's about time he stopped it. And he shouldn't put fuel on the smouldering fire which is England/India team relations. Play hard, but play fair - and verbally abusing your opponents just ain't fair. 

It's not that sledging offends the "Spirit of Cricket" that we should oppose it. The "Spirit" has long since been the fictional fantasy of men in blazers of a certain age. They preen and posture and often hide behind a concept which is largely ignored by players and administrators alike. The Laws of Cricket have long been sufficiently clear that unfair play is unlawful. Let's agree that unfair play indisputably includes sledging. And let's give the Umpire Yellow and Red cards to use when a player, in their sole judgment, offends. 

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