Cricket, as we know, is a gentleman's game. However, slowly with the advent of modern-day cricket, the sport has started to accumulate a number of add-ons, one of which is sledging. It all started with occasional instances of banter now and then to fuel some fire in a five-day match. However, with every passing day sledging has become a part and parcel of cricket it seems.
Other than sledging, overconfident remarks by a cricketer (before or after a match or a series), gestures etc. are also some of the frequent occurrences that can be witnessed on the pitch more often than not. They call them 'mind games’ which are apparently necessary to dismantle the confidence of their opposition. Sometimes the remarks do come in handy while sometimes they come back to bite the ones who had made them.
Here are four instances when the overconfidence of a number of cricketers backfired:
4. Steven Smith against England
On the eve of the 2015 Ashes, Australian cricketer, Steven Smith had remarked that the English cricket team “wouldn't come close” to them throughout the course of the coveted Test series. The 27-year-old was coming off the back of a terrific string of individual performances at the expense of the Indian and the Caribbean bowlers and seemed to be quite relaxed and overconfident at the various pre-series press conferences.
The ultimate series result, however, ended nowhere near Smith's prediction. England humiliated the Aussies, defeating them by margins of 169 runs, 8 wickets and an innings and 78 runs in the 1st, 3rd and 4th matches of the series to seal the 2015 Ashes by 3-2.
3. Glenn Maxwell against New Zealand
The stage was set. It was a Group Stage match of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup and it was Australia and New Zealand who were up against each other at Eden Park, Auckland. While chasing the Australian total of 151 runs, the Kiwis were almost on the verge of a collapse and at one stage were tumbling at 146/9 with six more runs to go.
It was the Aussie speedster, Mitchell Starc, who had picked up back-to-back wickets during the penultimate over of the match in order to bring the Kiwi number 11, Trent Boult on the pitch. It was exactly at that point of time when Glenn Maxwell made a gesture to the Kiwi crowd of getting choked. Soon after, Kane Williamson caned Mitchell Marsh for a match-winning over-boundary.
New Zealand went on to win the crucial Group Stage match by 1 wicket.
2. Andrew Flintoff against India
Yuvraj Singh had smashed six sixes off a Stuart Broad over to steer the Indians to the semi-final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World T20 that took place in South Africa back in 2007. And almost every cricket fan knows what fuelled had Yuvraj Singh to take on Broad for that extraordinary feat - a verbal stand-off with Andrew Flintoff in the very previous over.
Later, Yuvraj Singh had gone on to reveal the exact conversation that took place between both of them in an interview with the former Bollywood actress, Simi Garewal. According to Yuvi, “He (Andrew Flintoff) said those were ******* ridiculous shots because I had hit him for two boundaries in that over. I said **** you. Then he said, excuse me. I said you heard what I said. And he said I will cut your throat off. I said you see this bat in my hand. You know where am I gonna hit you with this bat?”
Yuvraj also admitted, “It got me really worked up. I was really angry and I just wanted to hit every ball out of the ground, just give it back. Sometimes, it’s good for you. Sometimes, it backfires. But on that day, I think it backfired for them.”
1. Aamir Sohail against India:
It was an India versus Pakistan encounter at the quarter-final stage of the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup. Steered by Navjot Singh Sidhu's fighting 93 and Ajay Jadeja's 25-ball 45, the 'Men in Blue’ had posted a formidable 287 runs on the scoreboard for Pakistan to chase down.
The Pakistani chase had begun with a bang. Both their openers, Aamir Sohail and Saeed Anwar, started playing shots towards almost each and every corner of the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in order to give Pakistan a strong start. While Anwar fell to Javagal Srinath with the score at 84, Aamir Sohail continued to exploit the Indian bowling line-up by scoring his fifty at more than run a ball.
In the process, he had hit one Venkatesh Prasad delivery to the boundary and later followed it up by pointing the region to Prasad with his bat as if to say, “Go and fetch it.” Come the very next delivery and Aamir Sohail got comprehensively bowled by Prasad while trying to repeat his previous shot. The tables had turned. This time, a charged up Venkatesh Prasad gave Sohail an animated send-off.
In the end, India won the match by 39 runs to advance to the semi-finals of the 1996 ICC Cricket World Cup.