Australia's Mitchell Johnson is held back by umpire Kumar Dharmasena as he talks to England's Ben Stokes (left) during the 2nd Ashes cricket Test match between Australia and England at the Adelaide cricket ground, Adelaide, Australia on the 8th of December 2013. (Photo by Philip Brown/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Does Sledging Have A Place In Cricket?

Has “sledging” ever been such a hot topic? Is it being confused with something else? Does sledging have a role to play in our great game?

Yes, it gets confused with “abuse”, and yes, it absolutely does have a role to play in cricket.

As an Australian is writing this, you might think “oh, of course he condones sledging”, but hear me out!

We have sporting teams we love, not only because they may be local, but because they share some of the same values we have.

The Australian cricket team have made it quite easy to fall out of love with them over the last few years.

Australians, including myself, were absolutely fuming in the aftermath of the ball tampering incident, not because of the incident in isolation (as disappointing as it was), but because of a build up of disappointing behaviour over an extended period of time. This includes playing the “victim” card and drawing the “moral line”, when they were the first to cross it, such as making personal comments towards other players, hoping opposition players go back home crying and getting involved in scuffles in bars.

Sledging Is An Important Part Of Our Game

Sledging in the right spirit adds to the magnificent spectacle that is cricket, especially Test cricket.

Our great game is as much a mental battle as it is between bat and ball, and the opportunity the game provides to say a few words to the opposition just to try get on top mentally is a fascinating aspect of the sport.

It creates a battle within a battle, and keeps us on the edge of our seats. I don’t want to see an emotionless game. No one does. But, people often get abuse confused with sledging that’s within the spirit of the game.
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Sledging is great, abuse isn’t, which was highlighted nicely by new Australia coach Justin Langer.

“Everyone talks about this word ‘sledging’, but there’s a difference between sledging and abuse. Abuse is no good – it doesn’t matter if you’re off the field or on the field, there’s no room for it, ever. But, there’s plenty of room for banter, or what we call sledging. It’s a fun part of the game.”

Spot on.

Dish It Out, Expect To Get It In Return

If it is all done in the spirit of the game, then it’s magnificent.

Again, the big reaction to the ball tampering incident in Australia was a build up over time. The poor culture of the Australian team was emphasised significantly by playing that “victim” card, which came back to haunt them. No one ever believed that a bloke like David Warner was a victim. Simple.

Now, I’m excited for the future of Australian cricket. A lot has been cleaned up. Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft will be back after their bans (not sure about Warner, especially if you want to maintain a good culture), and Darren Lehmann and James Sutherland, among others, are gone.
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Tim Paine, the new Australian skipper, wants to paint a new picture of the Australian team. Justin Langer is happy to do this while keeping healthy sledging and banter a part of the game.

It’s the right way to go about it. I’ve played cricket and have had some words to say to the opposition, based on the cricket battle.

It’s all part of the fun!

Sledging In Cricket – Does It Have A Place?

Absolutely. We love to see matches full of emotion and passion.

Of course, there is a line. Not an Australian cricket team defined line, but one that is abuse, personal and not cricket-related.

Sledging is not abuse. Sledging is a strategic move to help gain an advantage over an opponent, within the spirit of the game.

I’m all for it!

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