When young lads tease other on streets, loitering around the street corners, we consider them antisocial, their behaviour is condemned as malevolent. But, when the same is done by the top sports players on the field, it is cherished and celebrated.
Australia have been dominating world cricket for the past few decades. Cricketing glory is the highest pinnacle of success for the Australian youths. However, for a cricketing super-power like Australia, they have a very poor on-field reputation. They might have won four of the last five cricket World Cups, but their disrespect for the oppositions and the eagerness to win by hook or crook has been a problem since generations.
The respectful competition of the gentlemen's game has been replaced by ugly altercation. Opprobrious comments and racist remarks have become Australia's strategy for the physiological dominance over the opponents. This practice is often called "Sledging", derived from the phrase, 'as subtle as the sledgehammer'.
Umpires often ignore many cases even when the abusive comments breach the ICC's code of conduct. There are many instances in Australian cricket where the players were fined for their behavior. In 2013, the, then, skipper Michael Clarke received a modest fine for calling Anderson "to get ready for a broken arm". The skipper's act was caught in the stump microphone and he was later fined for it.
In 2015, when Australians toured South Africa, the sledging was so bad that South African Batsman Faf Du Plessis called the visitors a pack of dogs.
It was in 2014, the day which shocked world cricket, the death of Philip Hughes that started to change the mindset of the players, who started opting for a parallel world where sledging never existed. It was a state-level game in Australia. After a heated argument between one of the fielders and Hughes, the bowler bowled a deliberate bouncer at around 100 miles per hour, and it went off the pitch like a bullet.
Hughes could have ducked, but deep into the heated argument, he tried to pull, missing the ball which hit him on the neck. He was severely injured and passed away in 2 days because of the internal injuries.
The amount of sledging decreased, however, the feeling of winning at any cost didn't. In the South African tour earlier this year, Australia suffered a great loss when Steven Smith and David Warner, the skipper and his deputy, were caught in the case of ball-tampering. The two of the most dependable batsmen of the Aussie line-up were banned for one year. This incident has shocked the Australian team from its roots and they haven't been able to recover yet.
Sledging is not alone Australia's menace. From Miandad to the English Pubs, sledging has been varied, both on-field to the off-field. However, there is a thin line of difference between school ground churls and on-field bullies. Professional sportsmen must operate in accordance to a set of commonly agreed rules and more importantly, moral values. At their pinnacle, they represent an ideal version of society: a pure and fair competition between the best athletes any nation could produce. After all, you learn life values from sports.