Ver­bal abuse on the pitch is just not cricket

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAUREN PRIESTLEY

AS THE Ashes se­ries across the ditch heats up, cricket clubs here are urg­ing play­ers not to en­gage in ver­bal abuse to gain an edge over the op­po­si­tion.

Aus­tralian skip­per Michael Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fees af­ter telling English ri­val James An­der­son to ‘‘get ready for a bro­ken arm’’ in the fiery first test last week.

And the Aussie sledgers have made it clear they won’t be eas­ing off in the next Ashes test tomorrow.

For­mer In­ter­na­tional Cricket Coun­cil um­pire man­ager Doug Cowie says out­right sledg­ing, in­sults and bad lan­guage is not in line with the spirit of the ‘‘gen­tle­man’s game’’.

The St He­liers man says dur­ing a test play­ers will crack jokes and try to get into the op­po­si­tion’s headspace but there is a fine line be­tween ban­ter and abuse.

‘‘Peo­ple do make com- ments to each other and as long as it’s within the bound­aries of main­tain­ing re­spect it is fine but out­side of that things do get re­ported and pun­ished, as we saw with Clarke.’’

Corn­wall Cricket Club pre­mier player Matt Davies says sledg­ing can be a psy­cho­log­i­cal art when used wisely.

‘‘It’s not like it doesn’t hap­pen. It’s hap­pen­ing all across Auck­land but just with­out the mi­cro­phones to pick it up.’’

Heck­ling other play­ers to gain a tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage has roots back to 1960s Aus­tralian cricket. Aus­tralian fast bowler Merv Hughes had a par­tic­u­lar rep­u­ta­tion for sledg­ing and is re­mem­bered for the line: ‘‘If you turn the bat over you’ll get the in­struc­tions, mate.’’

Some­times sledg­ing is witty and en­ter­tain­ing, pre­mier club um­pire and Auck­land Univer­sity Cricket Club man­ager Richard Walker says.

It creeps into lower-grade club games and it is part of an um­pire’s job to man­age that, he says.

‘‘Some of the play­ers are very good at it, and if they are, it can be very funny.

‘‘Ba­si­cally, if I’m smil­ing it’s fine and if I’m not then it’s not ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘‘Things like per­sonal and racial abuse are not on,’’ he says.

Photo: MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE

Fine line: Auck­land crick­eters say there’s a line be­tween ban­ter and ver­bal abuse.

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