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)

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

News
news

Voices
Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

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

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London