Sledging gets Ashes off to a bumpy ride

Michael Clarke's threat to James Anderson has set the tone for an acrimonious Ashes.

THE INCIDENT: Clarke enquires if Anderson would like a broken arm.

Andy Roberts, a fearsome fast bowler in the formidable West Indies side of the 1970s, was renowned for not talking to opponents on the field.

If you ask those who faced him if this meant he lacked for 'commitment' or 'aggression', chances are you'll receive a very hollow laugh.

Equally, it's pretty difficult for everyone involved in a cricket match, where teams can be in the field for several hours at a stretch, to be as tight-lipped as Roberts.

Indeed when on the opening day of the first Test at Brisbane in 1946 Australia great Don Bradman, having made an unconvincing 28, was given "not out" after England were certain he'd nicked the ball to Jack Ikin at second slip, England captain Wally Hammond is reported to have said: "That's a (expletive deleted) fine way to start an Ashes series."

Roll the clock on some 67 years and there was general agreement Australia captain Michael Clarke had gone too far in threatening England No 11 James Anderson with a "broken arm" towards the end of the recent Ashes opener in Brisbane, which the hosts won by the crushing margin of 381 runs.

That was certainly the view of the International Cricket Council, who fined Clarke 20 percent of his match fee.

But afterwards Mitchell Johnson, England's tormentor-in-chief at Brisbane with his fiery left-arm fast bowling, said of the sledging: "I think it's worked for us. I definitely think they (England) are rattled by it."

Read more: Harris to play
Read more: Warner opens up
Read more: Hughes serves notice

It was all a far cry from the kind of amusing exchange enjoyed by Australia bowler Merv Hughes and England batsman Robin Smith.

Hughes, having told Smith he wasn't much of a batsman, saw his next ball hit for four.

"Hey Merv we make a fine pair. I can't bat and you can't bowl," Smith said, although his precise reply was a touch more colourful.

But given the increasingly crude nature of current sledging, former Australia captain Ian Chappell said this week he feared it might lead to physical violence.

"Something personal will be said at the wrong time and you'll have fisticuffs. I think we're getting close to fisticuffs," said Chappell, who resents suggestions his Australia side of the 1970s were sledging 'pioneers'.

"If I was playing now, firstly, I'd tell whoever was talking to shut up or it's going to be a long day, because I don't face up until you shut up," added Chappell, who said he'd talk to the bowler at the non-striker's end if he got no redress from the umpire.

Steve Waugh, when captain of the successful Australia side of the 1990s and early 2000s, made great play of "mental disintegration".

"Ask your wife"

But one of Waugh's key players, Glenn McGrath made a crude comment to West Indies' Ramnaresh Sarwan about the supposed nature of his relationship with Brian Lara, the batsman's reply of "ask your wife" saw the Australia paceman react furiously.

What Sarwan didn't know was that Jane McGrath was suffering from cancer, a disease that ultimately took her life.

Equally, Australia's David Warner had no idea Jonathan Trott was about to leave the current tour with a stress-related illness when he called him "poor and weak" after the England batsman twice fell cheaply to Johnson.

"I think Dave Warner's comments were out of order. I don't believe you should comment on someone else personally on the opposition," Waugh said.

No doubt match officials will have stern words with Clarke and England captain Alastair Cook ahead of next week's second Test in Adelaide.

Meanwhile Waugh said Australia could cut down on the 'verbals'.

"They're playing well, so they don't need to do so much talking out there now," he added.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have been able to purchase batting replacements for the loss of Michael Hussey and spin reinforcements in the form of Samuel Badree. They appear… More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »