Did you say gentleman’s sport?

by Richard Freeman

“Sledging,” or “mental disintegration” as it is referred to by the Australians, is the use of abusive or offensive words against an opponent. Sledge is taken from the Australian saying “as subtle as a sledgehammer” and the Aussies have gained a reputation as masters of the art. Here are a few classic quips:

Merv Hughes (Australia) and Javed Miandad (Pakistan)

During the 1991 Adelaide Test match, Hughes was unimpressed with Miandad speaking Urdu rather than English, and even less so when Miandad, who was batting, contemptuously called the bowler a “fat bus conductor.”

A few balls later, the “fat bus conductor” dismissed Javed. “Tickets, please,” Merv called out as he ran past the departing batsman.

Hughes and Viv Richards (West Indies)

There were times when Hughes didn’t even need to speak to get under a batsman’s skin. During one Test match in the West Indies he didn’t say a word to Viv Richards, simply staring at him after deliveries.

“Don’t you be staring at me, man,” said Richards. “Get back and bowl. This is my island. This is my culture. Don’t you be staring at me. You have no right to be staring.” Hughes didn’t reply, but after he dismissed Viv with his fifth ball, he announced to the departing batsman: “In my culture we say ‘piss off.’ “

Richards and Greg Thomas (England)

Richards’ exchange with bowler Greg Thomas is another example of sledging backfiring. After delivering a couple of good balls, Thomas told Richards: “It’s red, round and weighs about 5 ounces.”

Unfortunately for Thomas, Richards hammered the next ball out of the ground and into a river. At which point Viv piped up: “Greg, you know what it looks like. Now go and find it.”

Glenn McGrath (Australia) and Eddo Brandes (Zimbabwe) After the Zimbabwean played and missed a McGrath delivery, the Aussie bowler wandered up the wicket and politely inquired: “Oi, Brandes, why are you so fat?”

” ‘Cos every time I f**k your wife she gives me a biscuit,” replied Brandes. Apparently, even the Aussie slips (fieldsmen positioned close to the wicket), were reduced to tears of laughter.