Cricket is a game of bat and ball, but some cricketers have another lethal weapon in their arsenal which is sledging. As you can see the title of the article refers to sledging to an invisible, infamous 12th man. In fact, both infamous and invisible justify the nature of sledging in cricket very well. You can’t see it, but you can feel it, and most of the time you react, and if you are unlucky, you become the victim of it. This is how sledging works! Cricket is regarded as a gentleman’s game, but it is not that gentle. Sledging could make it sizzling hot.
What is Sledging?
“Sledging is the verbal attack to an opposition player usually, to a batsman to distract his concentration, and finally make him get out.” You see, how evil sledging is!
Sledging has been in cricket for a very long time, but Ian Chappell believes that sledging is used as a term in cricket from 1963–1964 or 1964–1965 Sheffield Shield tournament.
How does it work?
The first and foremost requirement for sledging is INTELLIGENCE. A bowler needs verbal sharpness to irritate the batsman and the batsman tends to defend it swiftly and smartly. This is how it works. If the batsman gets angry, he plays a rash shot, and then he might get out, and the bowler becomes the winner!
Is sledging a sure success?
The answer is NO. Sledging is not enough for many players. They are too solid to break. One of them is great Sachin Tendulkar. Even Australian legendary leg spinner Shane Warne had to admit that for Sachin Tendulkar sledging is not enough; you have to bowl really well to get his wicket; no exception.
Who are involved?
There should not be many batsmen who were not sledged by any cricketers in their career. In fact, even the great bowlers take part in sledging. We saw former Australian paceman Glenn McGrath sledging many times.
Usually, sledging is done instantly. If a batsman who is in good form; times the ball very well; hits it all over the park; is the prime target of sledging. To be honest, sledging is used as the last weapon to stop the unstoppable batsman. Batsmen are human; they are not a robot. So they react.
It is not essential that sledging has to be practised on the field. Nowadays cricketers are so smart that they start sledging even before the first match of a series! In fact, they make full use of modern media. One instance of this kind of sledging started former Indian opener, the prince of Kolkata, Sourav Ganguly. He said that he would pull the chain of The Rawalpindi Express. Rawalpindi Express is none other than Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar who broke the 100-mile barrier. India vs. Pakistan cricket match is always hot, and this kind of verbal attack turns the environment to the boiling point.
Another example of a pre-match attack between India vs. Pakistan was in the ICC World Cup 2011 where Pakistani skipper Shahid Afridi, the fastest ODI century-maker form only 37 balls, was accused of telling unnecessary things by the Indian media, but Afridi denied everything and told it was the trick of the Indian media to distract Pakistani players’ attention before the mega match.
Notable sledging incidents
Maybe a very little amount of sledging is ignorable. But if it is not controlled, it could turn into a big controversy all over the world. One of the most heinous examples of sledging is the “monkey gate” scandal between Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and Australian Hard Hitter Andrew Symonds. Symonds claimed that Harbhajan called him “monkey.” The entire cricket world became relentless during this incident back in 2008. Harbhajan was banned from three matches though this ban was finally lifted as no obvious proof was found. But the good thing about cricket is that they solved their problem. These two guys currently play in the same Mumbai Indians team in IPL (Indian Premier League). A few days ago Harbhajan said to the media “I have played with him at the Mumbai Indians and I found out he is a really good guy. I and Symo do not have any problems at all and we get on very well. I understand him now and I think he understands me,”
Sledging is sometimes hilarious; creates humour among the players and everyone who comes to know the story. Below these kinds of humorous sledging are discussed. Hope they will make you laugh.
•W G Grace Did a lot of sledging. In fact, he was one of the pioneers of sledging! After getting clean bowled he said, "They came to watch me bat, not you bowl."
•Australian Rodney Marsh said to English Ian Botham “So how’s your wife and my kids?” Ian Botham’s reply – “The wife’s fine. The kids are retarded!”
•Pakistani Batsman Javed Miandad called Australian bowler Hughes a fat bus conductor, and few balls later Miandad got out and Hughes said “Ticket please.” Needless to say, Hughes was the bowler.
•Once Sunil Gavaskar decided to bat at number four instead of opening the innings, but unfortunately, two Indian batsmen got out without scoring any run. Then opposition batting genius Viv Richards said to Gavaskar “Man, it doesn’t matter where you come in to bat, the score is still zero.”
•Greg Thomas bowled few balls and Viv Richards missed all of them in a row. Then Greg said, "It's red, round and weighs about five ounces, in case you were wondering." Then Richards hit a huge six out of the park and replied "Greg, you know what it looks like, now go and find it."
•Like India and Pakistan, South Africa and Australia are the eternal rivals of cricket. Spin King Shane Warne who has been recently immortalized by a 300 kg statue once said to South African batman Darryl Cullinan, “I had to wait for two years to embarrass you again” Clever Cullinan replied, “looks like you spent it eating.”
Sledging is practised not only in cricket but also in basketball, ice hockey and in many sports. The only difference is that they use different terms. In basketball it is called “trash talk” and in Ice hockey, it is called “chirping.” Even in boxing were using hands is allowed, abusing each other is also seen. One famous example is Muhammed Ali’s screaming at the opposite boxer what’s my name?
In soccer, there is always something going on the field between the players. Nobody can forget the infamous Zinedine Zidane’s crazy head-on Marco Materazzi in the FIFA World Cup Final 2006. Zidane really had to pay a lot for this--a red card, and eventually losing the trophy in a penalty shootout. If he got the chance to take part in the penalty shootout, France could win the trophy.
Sledging has been a part and parcel of cricket from its inception. To be honest, a little bit of sledging which creates humour; never turn into racial abuse is accepted. Sledging can create SPECIAL MOMENTS! To be honest, the 12th is always welcomed as long as he is not destructive to the spirit of the game of cricket.