You have to laugh at the Aussies don’t you? They didn’t invent sledging in cricket but they were the first team to actually employ the practice as a deliberate, calculated weapon aimed at helping to win test matches. They targeted mostly sensitive and decent players and tried to upset them with nastiness. Think Andrew Hudson and those vile comments about his wife? That was simply revolting and did them no credit.
Over the years they have defended the practice and, of course, they assume that everyone shares their own high opinion about them, their country and their sense of fairness. That’s the problem. Others simply don’t understand that the self identified greatest nation in the world judges itself by different standards to the rest.
Thus, when Quinton de Kock decided to fight fire with fire the Aussies lost their sense of humour. If you give it, you have to be able to take it. Thats what we were taught in the playground in school and its not a bad adage. They talk about lines being crossed in cricket but who drew up the lines? Where are they? Was a vote taken on the matter?
It reminds me of an incident shown from the great 2005 Ashes series in the marvellous “Forged in Fire” series that has been on television recently. The Poms decided enough was enough and that it was time to win back the Urn after decades. For the first time in ages they competed in all areas of the game. They had a battery of fast bowlers who could dish it out and, led by Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss, they were prepared to fight at the crease. They also had a young genius called Kevin Pietersen about to hit the world.
They discovered that the Aussies were seriously angered by the practice of allowing their quicks to leave the field for a shower and massage to aid recovery. Having been dismissed, Ricky Ponting lost the plot and, on leaving the field, he started shouting obscenities at the England balcony and at coach Duncan fletcher, in particular. That was the moment the England team knew they had rattled the Aussies and boy, did they enjoy it and use it to their advantage.
Since the incident in Durban has come to light you can see a difference in the SA team. They have used the Warner outrage to focus their efforts into winning. Rabada looks a different bowler. When the going was really tough you could see that Elgar and Amla were determined not to give it away when they easily could have. As is always the case, the best way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them and that is what Quinny has led in his team.
Hopefully the Aussies will learn a lesson too. They are great people and great sportsmen. This was evidenced by the way every player went up to AB when he completed that wonderful century. That is the real spirit of Australia and it was wonderful to see.
Its time that sledging, other than for fun, is banished from cricket. It is unpleasant, sets a bad example and, as England and now South Africa have shown, it doesn’t even work anymore. Get rid of it.