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How cricketers use sledging for their tactical advantage?

Pravir Rai
343   //    09 Aug 2018, 18:54 IST


Sledging is a term used in cricket where one or more player of a team picks up a verbal fight or intimidates player(s) of a rival team, to de-motivate or make them lose their focus. This has been in practice since long but has gained a lot of traction of late. Various cricket bodies like ICC and stalwarts of the game like Sunil Gavaskar, and Rahul Dravid etc. have raised their voices against this malpractice.

Sledging started when W.G. Grace played in the late 1880s. They made noises to tease opponents. Australians started this practice in the 1960s on a big scale where the players cursed in front of women during the Sheffield Shield competition. This boosted their ego and became a wooing tactic.

Ian Chappell and Rod Marsh used profanity so that they broke batsman's concentration. Australian bowler Merv Hughes admitted that he took 25 % of the wickets just because of sledging. Ricky Ponting supported this practice by saying that sledging helps get players 'out of control' and 'out of their comfort zone'.

India also started sledging with Sourav Ganguly at her helm in the early 2000s. Virender Sehwag has said, "If there's no sledging, there would not be any enjoyment left in the game." MS Dhoni treats sledging as an 'art' and has said it is fair as long as a 'line' isn't crossed. Current Captain Virat Kohli is on another level of aggression and sledging. He once said, "We take it very well and we give it back even better."

an altercation between Smith and Rahane

Sledging has a number of goals for each player and they use it tactically to gain competitive advantage; specifically, to break concentration and induce anxiety through oral or facial intimidation. Some batsmen enjoy being sledged and they use it to heighten their performance. Vivian Richards, Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar etc. relished being talked to and they gave it back in style.

Few Instances of sledging

South African pacer Kagiso Rabada was sledging Kohli after the on-field umpire adjudged Kohli LBW. Kohli gave Rabada a death stare and called for a review. The third umpire overturned his decision. Kohli went on to score 160*.

Vivian Richards was playing a county match. The night before the match, he had a lot of drinks and was feeling hung over. The opening pair got out early so he had to walk in. Due to the hangover, he was unable to concentrate and got beaten by the bowler Greg Thomas, four times in a row. Greg said, “It’s red, it's about five and a half ounces and you are supposed to hit it.” The next ball was hit so powerfully by Richards that it went in the stands. Viv gave him a look and said, “Since you know the shape, size, and color – now go find it”.

During a test match between Pakistan and Australia in 1991, Miandad sledged Merv Hughes: "Merv you are a big, fat bus conductor". Merv was furious and within a few balls, he dismissed Miandad. He quickly ran past Miandad and shouted: "Tickets please!".