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?
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
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

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?