Before this Ashes series it was reported that Australia players, almost as famous for their verbal taunts as their on-field brilliance, had received letters banning them from “sledging.”
But any lingering doubt was set aside by tyro fast bowler Peter Siddle at Lord’s on Tuesday when, speaking ahead of the second Ashes Test, he said with a grin: “If it was sent, I don’t think we’ve received it yet.”
In truth, for generations of English players the notion of their oldest opponents ceasing to “sledge” always seemed as likely as Australian cricketers ditching their distinctive baggy green caps.
Australia, after all, were the team whose former captain Steve Waugh had elevated the art of verbal abuse into “mental disintegration.”
By contrast, one of the most quoted on-field remarks by an England cricketer was when veteran batsman Colin Cowdrey stunned firebrand quick Jeff Thomson during the 1974 Perth Test by saying: “Good morning. We haven’t met. My name is Cowdrey.”
Any notion Ricky Ponting’s current side would cut the chat was quickly put right.
Cricket Australia had sent its players guidance warning them to be on their best behavior while on tour in Britain and pointing out they would be public figures both on and off the field.
It was issued after a survey of Australian cricket fans revealed public concern regarding the team’s conduct following several high-profile spats, notably involving India.
However, this did not extend to a specific “sledging” ban.
Siddle is fast becoming the Australia quick opposition crowds love to hate and he relishes his role as the pantomime villain.
The 24-year-old may have only taken three wickets during the drawn first Test in Cardiff last week but performed with commendable hostility on a soul-destroying surface for fast bowlers.
Siddle several times hit tailender Graeme Swann with some stinging deliveries and in the absence of Brett Lee, whose rib injury looks as if it will also rule him out of the second Test, which starts at Lord’s on Thursday, added some valuable aggression to the Australia attack.
“It is just part of me. I like to go about that kind of stuff,” Siddle said. “We found that was a bit of a weakness, but he [Swann] toughed it out and he stuck around for a while. It was just good fun.”
He added: “That is when I am bowling at my best, when I am fired up and charging in. The sooner it happens the better it is for the team.”
Siddle, nicknamed “Sid Vicious” after the bass player in British punk band Sex Pistols, surged to prominence during Australia’s 2-1 series win in South Africa this year with successive four-and five-wicket hauls.
Now he is looking forward to becoming the latest Australian to fall in love with Lord’s where his country haven’t lost a Test since 1934.
“Growing up, there were a few little dreams ... an Ashes series at Lord’s was one of them,” he said. “It is just amazing, the history and tradition and running out there on that first day will be great.”