The Sledging Season: Australia's traditionalists fear it is just too damned quiet

To hear the laments of former players round Australia the team who were once ace sledgers have instead become pure as driven snow. They do not like what they are not hearing.

For two months men who once wore the baggy green have been queueing up to complain that their successors have gone soft. If they have not quite urged them to return to what used to be the status quo, they certainly expect less friendly banter.

The cordial relations between the sides in the previous Ashes have been cited as a contributory factor in Australia's defeat. "We didn't have an edge to our game," said Allan Border, under whose stewardship Australia were zealous in trying to undermine opponents with a verbal volley.

"We lost the attitude to the English we once had," said Merv Hughes, a big-hearted fast bowler and one of the most aggressive sledgers of all time. Mark Waugh speculated that too much fraternisation had taken away the Australians' aura.

Two more former captains joined the fray last week. Steve Waugh, who took sledging into a whole new psychological arena by coining the phrase "mental disintegration", said Shane Warne should be stopped "exchanging pleasantries on the field". Mark Taylor said: "Once the first ball is bowled there is no need to be nice." It all adds up to a yearning for a bygone era when anything went, men were men and sledgers were sledgers. But it seems improbable that they will be rewarded with a return to those halcyon days.

Senior members of the present team have castigated their predecessors. Warne, who knows a thing or two about turning the mental screw, said claims of going soft were rubbish. "I haven't been too friendly when I have played Test cricket for 15 years. That's well and truly documented. I wasn't friendly but I showed sportsmanship."

There is little doubt that Australia, under Ricky Ponting, have changed. They needed to. Ponting might be prone to bouts of bad temper and is forever cajoling umpires, but his team are less outrageously hard-nosed.

Before Marcus Trescothick went home after a recurrence of his stress-related condition there had been fears that he might have been reminded of it in the middle. Ponting had specifically rebutted the suggestion.

It is entirely possible that England will be milder under Andrew Flintoff than under Michael Vaughan. Vaughan is hardly a sledger but was unafraid to express an opinion. Fierce competitor though Flintoff is, he is more likely to smile than scowl.

But he was also responsible for a classic sledge against West Indies at Lord's in 2004. Tino Best, the tail-ender, was clearly champing at the bit to have a heave at Ashley Giles. Sensing this, Flintoff from slip, shouted: "Mind the windows, Tino." Next ball, Best charged Giles and was stumped. Maybe that is not what Border et al have in mind.

A WORD IN YOUR EAR: The top sledges to swear by

THE COMEBACK

Oh, I remember you from a couple of years ago in Australia. You were shit then and you're fucking useless now. Mark Waugh to New Zealand wicketkeeper Adam Parore.

Parore: Yes, that was me, and when I was there you were going out with that ugly old slut, and now I hear you've married her. You dumb cunt.

THE CHILLER

Now, David, are you going to get out or am I going to have to bowl round the wicket and kill you.

Malcolm Marshall after David Boon had played and missed.

THE LOADED REMARK

Why is it that you bat with a half-sleeve shirt and bowl with a full-sleeved one? Kumar Sangakkara to Harbhajan Singh when his bowling action had just been reported as suspect.

THE STILETTO CUT

Oh dear, is that how you're going to play Shane Warne?

Matthew Hayden to Ian Bell.

WAUGH GAMES

For Christ's sake it's not a Test match. Jamie Siddons as Steve Waugh took his time taking guard in a state game.

Waugh: Of course it isn't. You're playing.

PLAIN RUDENESS

I don't like you, Reeve. I never have. You get right up my nose and if you come anywhere near me, I'll rearrange yours.

David Lloyd to Dermot Reeve.

THE GENERAL PUTDOWN

Who is your spinner on this tour? Kumar Sangakkara to England fielders while facing Gareth Batty.

From 'The Sledger's Handbook', by Liam McCann (FF&F, £6.99)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkClue: You'll either love them or you'll hate them
News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
News
peopleWarning - contains a lot of swearing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project