The sledging will go on. Both sides in the Ashes series have made it perfectly clear that no quarter will be asked or given when the second Test begins in Adelaide on Thursday.
With the match referee, Jeff Crowe, preparing to speak to the captains, it seems the best he can hope for is that the talking is done out of range of the stump microphone. The general consensus is that Michael Clarke, Australia’s captain, was simply unfortunate to be overheard telling Jimmy Anderson towards the end of the Brisbane Test: “Get ready for a fucking broken arm.”
Clarke was subsequently fined 20 per cent of his match fee, barely a slap on the wrist. Australia seem to feel they have some catching up to do after being regularly abused in England last summer.
Chris Rogers, Australia’s opening batsman and the gentlest of souls, said yesterday as he arrived in Adelaide: “It was good that we had the upper hand this time. They got into us in England so it was probably due some going back to them. But this is another game and they’re going to come hard so I expect some verbals from them. We felt after England it was a chance for us to say something back and that is what happened.”
Anderson made it clear in his Sunday newspaper column yesterday that there would be no backing down. He said he expected to be subjected to a verbal barrage considering what he dished out in return.
No one should assume that England are the innocent parties in all this. As Rogers implied, they were on Australia’s case last summer and again in Brisbane.
The difference was that their opponents had Mitchell Johnson at the top of his game, physically and verbally. He was briefly disarmed only when Joe Root smiled at him innocently in England’s second innings.
“I was just enjoying myself,” said Root yesterday, “and you’ll have to ask him if it annoyed or frustrated him.” But perhaps he is on to something: the Aussies could be killed with kindness. Or not.
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