From badinage to the ire, within the limits and few over the lines, sledging has always been a common part of cricket.
Defined for the dummies: The verbal use of comments to intimidate or put off an opposing team player.
Apparently, the purpose is to try to weaken the opponent's concentration, and cause him to underperform.
With the batsman standing within hearing range of the bowler and certain close fielders; and vice-versa, it can be effective, yes.
In shorter words, ‘MENTAL DISINTEGRATION’, as former Australian captain, Steve Waugh puts it.
As to whether this reflects poor sportsmanship or good-humoured banter, the debate is still not closed in the cricketing world.
Sparks to insults, the comments have varied over the intensity.
Well, Sport is a well-priced package deal: Not just the game, we have personalities, rivalries, the ecstasy of wins, the disappointment of loses, arguments and along with all, few laughs.
During a 1989 Lords Test, Merv Hughes in response to Robin Smith’s miss of the ball exclaimed: "You can't f***ing bat".
Simth replied, both with the bat and words, as he smashed Hughes across the boundary:
"Hey Merv, we make a fine pair! I can't f*****g bat and you can't f***ing bowl."
Talk about easing pressure!
Sunil Gavaskar had decided to come lower down the order and bat at No 4 for that particular West Indies match. But, Malcolm Marshall fired out the openers, setting the stage for Gavaskar to walk in at 0/2.
As Sunil brought himself to the crease, Viv Richards commented in total smugness, “Man, it don’t matter where you come in to bat, the score is still zero.”
Often regarded as the most devastating batsman that ever played the game by cricketers, journalists, and fans alike, he’s known to have played his entire career without a helmet, across the 17 years from 1974 'til 1991.
And just as notorious he was, for punishing bowlers that dared to sledge him. So much so, that many opposing captains banned their players from the practice.
However in an English county game, there occurred an instance when Richards failed to strike seven balls in a row, and one bowler attempting to sledge, snorted:
"It's round and red and weighs five-and-a-half ounces, can't you see it?"
And the next delivery landed straight into a nearby river as Richards blasted the ball out of the stadium. Turning to the bowler,
"You know what it looks like!? Now go and get it.”
An incident during the Australia vs India tour, this was the last test match of the Australian legend Steve Waugh, who when came out to bat, was met with
“Come on, just one more of the famous slog-sweeps before you finish” from a young kid of the opponent’s side, Parthiv Patel.
Quick as flash, Waugh responded:
”Respect Me…for when I made my test debut, You were still in your nappies!”
It was Waugh standing at second slip, as Adam Parore, relatively new to cricket came to the crease, and missed the first delivery to hear Waugh, one never short of words, exclaim in fake recall:
"Ohhhhh, I remember you from a couple years ago in Australia. You were sh*t then, and you're f***ing useless now".
Parore- (Turning around): "Yeah, that's me and when I was there you were going out with that old, ugly sl*t & now I hear you've married her. You dumb c***.”
Former English batsman William Gilbert Grace, an outstanding all-rounder, was one of the best batsmen and cricket of the player ever since his entry in the late 19th Century. But much more notorious, he was, for his humorous quips.
The most remembered, was however was an instance in which Grace himself was the bait.
Many batsmen were given a thorough battering by Charles Kortright of Essex, another brilliant English bowler, and WG Grace was no exception.
In 1898, the great batsman was approaching the age of 50 and refused to speak to Kortright following a Gloucestershire vs Essex match.
This was the famous occasion on which Kortright, repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to dismiss Grace by the umpire who refused to give him out, finally managed to knock out two of the stumps out of the ground. As Grace reluctantly walked towards to the pavilions, Kortnight inquired,
"Surely you're not going, Doc?
There's still one stump standing!!"
And now from Europe to Australia, a side of which sledging was a pretty widespread element.
A famous example is that of the former fast bowler Merv Hughes of the 1980s and 1990s, whose intimidating and aggressive style, was often accompanied by a mixture of humorous witticisms and biting banter, sometimes even few that crossed the lines to insults.
On one such occasion, Hughes was bowling to Pakistan batsman Javed Miandad, who informed the overweight bowler,
“You looked like a fat bus conductor."
And the very next ball, Hughes clean bowled Miandad, who ran to celebrate with his team mates, screaming "Tickets please!"
In a showdown of best pacers of two countries, Brandes made up for his complete absence of batting skills by some displaying of great presence of mind.
Aussie paceman Glenn McGrath was bowling to Zimbabwe’s Eddo Brandes – and as ball by ball went by untouched by the No. 11, McGrath, frustrated that Brandes was still at the crease, wandered up during one particular over and inquired: "Why are you so fat?"
Quick as a flash, Brandes replied: "Because every time I make love to your wife, she gives me a biscuit."
Even the Aussie slip fielders were in hysterics.
Aus vs Eng: Rodney Marsh vs Ian Botham
“So how’s your wife and my kids?” came the greeting from Marsh.
Without batting an eyelid, Botham replied – “The wife’s fine. The kids are retarded!”
It was the 1994-95 tour of Australia’s England tour, an occasion of the opening match:
Forward on with complete speed, pace bowler Lillee stopped on his run up to Gatting to deliver the immortal:
“Hell, Gatt, MOVE out of the way! I can't see the stumps!!”
“Tufnell! Can I borrow your brain? I’m building an idiot.”
India vs Pakistan, as always, a treat to watch, and if the World Cup, even better!
Javed Miandad at the crease, miffed by the verbals from Kiran More, he complains " Insaan khel rahe hain janwaar nahin" (Human beings are playing not animals).
A sharp run out chance. Miandad closely survives. And before Kiran could completely appeal: