One of the great old traditions of Ashes cricket is sledging. This is a polite cricketing term for what we normally call verbal assault. To some it's what is wrong with modern cricket – the spirit of fair play is gone and now teams will do anything to win. To others, it's all part of the game and if you can't deal with it then you're just not tough enough.
Personally, I just rue the fact that the powers that be in television have clearly decided that we are not to hear any of what's going on. There are microphones everywhere, sharp enough to pick up a "snick" of the ball on the bat. It has, however, clearly been deemed that we are not ready to hear whatever goes on.
This is a shame because the Aussies really put in some time on their sledging – some say more time than they put in on the actual cricket. There have long been rumours of a committee that sits twice a week during Test matches and works out the sledging themes that the players should go with. An envelope landed on my doorstep this week and in it was what appeared to be a transcript from one of these secret meetings. I can't be sure it's the real deal but it seems pretty kosher to me.
"Right, thanks for coming along today. Was anybody followed, as far as they know?"
"Not a chance."
"I'm all right."
"Great. Well, with everything in the balance we really need to up the sledging and so we need good, strong topics. I'll start us off – it seems to me that the first, obvious route to go down would be Warney and his antics. I don't know if any of you blokes have heard the latest, but he's been given the boot by Liz Hurley. This means that he's on his own, feeling sore and looking to score. Let's play on this angle – a lot of the Poms have other halves and loved ones still back in the UK so let's really push the idea that none of them is safe from his roving eye."
"Good call, mate – that sounds bang on."
"Good, anyone else with any other angles we can work on?"
"Well, I was looking at the news on the television and it looks like global warming has given England a miss this year – they're frozen up colder than Merv Hughes' wallet. What I was thinking was something along the lines of – your car is probably frozen up and somebody has probably smashed into the side of it and that's going to cost you a lot in the garage when you eventually dig it out ... that is if you can find a plane that dares to land anywhere in the UK, which you won't."
"Yeah... that's not brilliant to be honest, mate. Any other ideas?"
"How about just basic physical stuff – you're fat, you're ugly etc?"
"No – they've got the 'every time I sleep with your wife she gives me a biscuit' line for fat and as for ugly... well, we can't really go there, have you seen some of our blokes? Ponting looks like a severe car crash recovery."
"Come on, there must be something that will get their goat."
"How about if we go for Swann and how he didn't even place in the Sportsperson of the Year Awards?"
"Will that annoy him?"
"Oh yes, the guy is all over Twitter and the internet being a bit of a 'character' and clearly trying to set himself up as the next Phil Tufnell – then he gets beaten by a fat darts player and a bloody jockey!"
"Well, it's worth a try I suppose, but it doesn't sound like a killer."
"We need to suppress Pietersen and Bell the most – so we need ideas for them."
"Well, I happen to know that Pietersen is very susceptible to criticism – he doesn't like it. Why don't we just keep going on about stuff that Boycott has said about him? That will wind him up."
"What sort of stuff?"
"There's nothing Boycott hasn't said about everyone, there's nothing off-limits and it'll get him I bet you."
"What about Bell?"
"Can we play the ginger card?"
"I don't think we can anymore – last time we did that they said the thing about replacing ginger with Jew and saying it."
"What does that mean?"
"I don't know but we best steer away from it."
"Right, anyone else? Come on we're running out of time..."Reuse content