Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Ashes series set for bumpy sledging ride

JUST NOT CRICKET:Australia captain Michael Clarke, who once told James Anderson to prepare for a broken arm, said the game would be played in the ‘right spirit’

AFP, MANCHESTER, England

The Australia national cricket team pose for a photograph with Australian High Commissioner Alexander Downer, front row, second right, during a welcome party at the Australian High Commission in London on Monday.

Photo: AP

According to the Lord’s-based Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), still the guardian of cricket’s rules, it is against the “spirit of the game” to “direct abusive language toward an opponent.”

Ask many a cricket fan for a definition of “sledging” and the chances are they would settle for the MCC version.

However, in a sign of how tricky it is to agree on what is or is not acceptable, Australia’s Shaun Marsh, speaking ahead of the first Ashes Test against England in Cardiff on July 8, said on Monday: “It is an Ashes series and I am sure there will be sledging from both teams, but I am also sure it will be in the spirit of the game.”

“I think it is really important to get out there and show your aggression and put your stamp on the game — that is the Australian way,” he added.

There was a recognition that things had got out of hand during the last Ashes campaign, which saw Australia whitewash England 5-0 on home soil in 2013-2014.

During the first Test in Brisbane, Australia captain Michael Clarke told England tailender James Anderson to “get ready for a broken … arm.”

Clarke later apologized for the tone of his comments and on Sunday promised the upcoming Ashes would be played in the “right spirit.”

Prior to this year’s Cricket World Cup, the International Cricket Council promised a crackdown on sledging.

However, that did not stop wicketkeeper Brad Haddin from giving send-offs to several departing New Zealand batsmen during Australia’s seven-wicket World Cup final win in Melbourne on March 29.

Haddin subsequently gave a radio interview in which he defended his actions by saying: “They were that nice to us in New Zealand [when Australia lost a pool match] and we were that uncomfortable. I said: ‘I’m not playing cricket like this. If we get another crack at these guys in the final I’m letting everything [out].’”

“I’m not going to play another one-day game so they can suspend me for as long as they like,” Haddin added.

England and New Zealand have just finished a thrilling Test and one-day series where both sides have been lauded for demonstrating it is possible to play aggressive cricket without sledging.

New Zealand opener Martin Guptill, who played in the World Cup final and has been a mainstay of the side in England, said he expected the cordial atmosphere to remain when the Black Caps completed their tour with a lone Twenty20 international at Old Trafford yesterday.

“The respect between both sides has been right up there and that should not change,” Guptill told reporters at the Manchester ground on Monday.

As for Australia’s sledging in the World Cup final, Guptill said: “It’s just the way they are. We can’t do a lot about them, can we?”

Part of the problem is that there is little humor in modern-day sledging, unlike the time when England great Ian Botham responded to Australia wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh’s barb of “How’s your wife and my kids?” by answering: “Wife’s fine, kids are retarded.”

What Rodney Marsh, now Australia’s national selector and no relation to Shaun, thinks of modern-day sledging is likely to be a topic for discussion when he gives this year’s MCC Spirit of Cricket Lecture at Lord’s on Sept. 1.

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