The gentleman’s game has evolved over the ages, and a little banter on the field is no longer frowned upon. In fact, it livens up the game and calls for some healthy competition, as long as it’s not offensive.
Over the years, players have exchanged conversations, but before the advent of stump microphones, these moments could neither be heard nor be recorded. The microphones have added to modern-day cricket by helping the game to become more accurate from the point of view of technology. They also added an entertainment angle as they can catch the incessant babble of the wicketkeeper or anyone in the vicinity of the microphone.
We look back at five entertaining bits of banter that the stump mic has caught over the years
1. Kumar Sangakkara welcomes Shaun Pollock
This happened in a high-stakes match between Sri Lanka and South Africa, during the 2003 World Cup at Durban. Kumar Sangakkara is considered to be a gentleman in world cricket. So, even when he decided to have a go at the opposition, he did it in style.
He chose to sing to Shaun Pollock. South Africa were battling to qualify for the Super Sixes and needed to beat Sri Lanka. Needing 120 more to win in a little over 20 overs, South Africa were in trouble at 149 for five in the 30th over when skipper Pollock came out to bat.
Sangakkara chirped from behind the stumps as Pollock readied himself to take strike. The Sri Lankan just described the enormity of the whole situation by speaking about the “weight of all expectations” with “42 million supporters depending on Shaun.” In between, there was also a mischievous mention of the “skippy” and “letting the country down” in a sing-song fashion. The wicketkeeper-batsman was being so ‘encouraging’ that it even managed to get a smile from the stately South African.
Pollock scored 25, and South Africa tied the game but was edged out in dramatic circumstances.
2. Mark Boucher taunting Tatenda Taibu
Zimbabwe, which was not one of the eight major cricketing nations back in 2005, was staring at a huge defeat to the more experienced South Africa in a Test match at Centurion. Mark Boucher, the Proteas wicketkeeper decided to have some fun, when he had a go at Zimbabwe’s young captain Tatenda Taibu.
As Taibu defended a Nicky Boje delivery, Boucher said, “The only time you look to score is when you have got only one seamer on the field.” As Taibu drove the ball to the covers, Boucher taunted him, “That is a big shot Tatenda. Where was your mouth at Cape Town when we had a full seaming attack? We have got one seamer and all of a sudden you have got a big mouth man!”
It didn’t stop there. Boucher had an even stronger taunt up his sleeve when he said, “I am going to get out now because you may be averaging in single figures on this tour. What are you averaging? You must know your average. Nine? Ten? Nine or 10? I think it is nine. Maybe 9.5...So, we will give you 10.”
If that is not some unnerving mocking, then what is?
3. Andrew Flintoff and Dwayne Bravo have a chat
In a Test match between England and West Indies, in 2004 at Lord's, a young Dwayne Bravo tries to sledge the big man, Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. The young Bravo is reminiscent of the one we see today, quite energetic and vocal on the field.
Bravo keeps encouraging the bowler to “Come on and get the big man,” meaning that they wanted to send Flintoff back to the pavilion as soon as possible. After a while, Flintoff turns and as expected, gives a fitting reply. He said, “Tell you what Dwayne...let’s see if you are around in three years. The game has a funny way of biting you up the ****. I’ve seen it all, mate. Bet you won’t be here.”
Dwayne Bravo has been around for more than three years so that may not have been the best prediction, but that is some very sage advice from the English all-rounder.
4. Mohammad Kaif has a statistics class with Mohammad Yousuf
An India-Pakistan match has a long history of animated conversations between the two teams. No match between the neighbours seems to be complete without some banter being exchanged.
Whether it is Javed Miandad-Chetan Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar-Abdul Qadir or Gautam Gambhir-Shahid Afridi, a meeting between the two always sparks off some sledging. This particular incident is funny not because of the sledging, but because of the deadpan-commentator manner in which India’s Mohammad Kaif delivers it.
During a Test match in 2005, Pakistan’s star batsman Mohammad Yousuf was having a patchy day at the crease when Kaif, in the slips, starts emphatically discussing Yousuf’s match stats. ‘87 ball khel lee, ek bhi chauka nahin maara,’ (he has played 87 deliveries but hasn’t scored a single boundary) he says, moving around the batsmen and trying to pressurise him, while Yousuf smiles nonchalantly.
5. Mahendra Singh Dhoni\'s innovative comments
'Captain Cool' may be a picture of calmness while batting, but when he is directing around his bowlers or fielders, he is very animated. MS Dhoni gets involved actively at every point of the match. He yells out instructions to players to make sure his strategies go as planned, and can be quite humorous.
The Indian captain has uttered several gems behind the stumps that can perk up even a boring match. In one, he reminds his boys of teamwork – ‘Vijay apna hi fielder hai use catch lene ke liye hi aage rakha hai, off mein bowl fenk.’ (Vijay is in our team; he is placed in that position to take a catch, keep bowling on the off-stump) and referring to England’s Ian Bell as ‘ghanti’ with calls of ‘Ghanti bajaao iski’ (Ring this bell) and ‘Ghanti ko leke jayenge’ (Let’s take Bell’s wicket).
Dhoni informing Ravindra Jadeja about the role of fielders, in a Test match vs New Zealand is equally hilarious. ‘Ye ghoomega toh Pujara ko isiliye idhar rakha hai, voh udhar taali bajaane ke liye nahi hai’ (If the ball turns, I've kept Pujara in the slips for catching only; he's not standing there just to clap).
The man does have a few jokes up his sleeve.