Notes from the pavilion for October 17th

Links of note from the past 24 hours:

The Australia-India spat

So Australia and India are embroiled in a spat all about Australia’s favourite tactic: on-field aggression. The Indians claim Ricky Ponting’s team have been using “harsh words” to their batsmen, while Australia suggest that India have misinterpreted “what aggressive cricket means”.

I can’t help feel this has been blown out of all proportion – by both parties. Australia are renowned for their tough-talking bullshit on the field of play, and equally famous for not being able to take it themselves. Remember England in the Ashes in 2005? Simon Jones flinging the ball into Matthew Hayden; Paul Collingwood, and others, shouldering up to an incensed Hayden. The bullies are always the biggest of cowards.

But I’m on Australia’s side for once, and not out of sympathy owing to their utter humiliation by England today in the Rugby World Cup (yeehaw!). India: for God’s sake, grow up and get on with it. If the nasty Australians really get out of hand, there are enough stump mics and cameras to witness the event. There’s a sense that India are appealing to the world, that somehow they are being victimised by Australia. Australia do this to every other team and although it occasionally boils over, it’s just part of their game.

It doesn’t always work for other teams though. India should just forget about trying to out-sledge them – it is not working.

Your thoughts?

Should stump mics be turned off?

Peter Moores, the England coach, has responded to criticism of England’s behaviour in the 2nd Test against India by suggesting stump microphones are switched off.

“There must be some things that are left on the field to be fair to the players,” Moores said in response to criticism of England’s incessent chatter during the Trent Bridge Test. “They should be allowed to go out there and play the game without being worried that everything they actually say is going to be broadcast. It’s something we’ve discussed as a management team and we’ve spoken to the match referee about it.”

The International Cricket Council rules that stump microphones be turned on whenever a ball is live – that is, when a batsman takes guard, between a bowler’s run-up to the time the ball reaches or passes a batsman, and from the time a fielder throws the ball back to a team-mate or onto the stumps.

It’s a confident reaction from a coach so new to international cricket and I agree, in part. Players should be allowed, within the law, to go hell for leather out there and say whatever they wish. This isn’t Question Time or an audience with the Queen. This is professional sport played by well-paid, talent individuals (supposedly) at the top of their game – and sledging is part of their armoury.

But, as a viewer, only once or twice have I ever heard a “live” sledge (Dean Jones was caught out, remember). Sky always tend to turn it down for viewers – though Matt Prior is, admittedly, probably the loudest England wicketkeeper I’ve ever heard, so it’s entirely plausible his yelps break through. And so what if they do? So what if we hear Prior, for example, call a batsman a gimp – or Zaheer thinks Pietersen’s a hermaphrodite. This has been going on since WG Grace first threw away his razor. Is society so pathetically sensitive, or naive, that it can’t handle the odd bit of banter between players fighting tooth and nail?

And if so…just turn it off and let everyone get on with it. If anything goes too far, the match referee can slap them with a fine or whatever.

You? Should they be turned on or off? Vote below, then leave your comments. If you can’t see the poll below, click here.


Kevin Pietersen’s hundred against West Indies

© Getty Images

Another quite brilliant innings. He is one of the most expert pacers of an innings I have seen; to watch him build the foundation in his first fifty, then explode during the second, was quite special. But what made it even more special was yet another confrontation with the opposition, this time with Chris Gayle.

Things were getting seriously heated, for no apparent reason. It went on for a good hour or hour-and-a-half, with Gayle chirping from the slips and Pietersen giving it back at the end of each over. There were shoulder barges, glaring, swearing, petulance from the bowler, daring-do from the batsman. Inside this Test, an entirely separate and very personal battle was taking place.

Aptly, Pietersen eventually fell to Gayle. They smiled, shook hands, and off he went. They may not be best mates, but they were big enough to acknowledge one another’s performance and not let their disagreement become bigger than the game. It was cricket at its most compelling.

Nixon’s sledging tips

Photo of Paul Nixon celebrating

Paul “Badger” Nixon, who I’ve yet to see play, is the subject of a recent post at SMH’s The Tonk. Or rather, Badger’s sledging is the focus. They’ve reprinted some of his best, as originally found at The Sunday Times last week.

To Matthew Hayden (whom Nixon claimed expressed nothing but contempt for him): “Hey, Matty, this could be your last knock for Australia, mate. Hey, mate, don’t throw it all away, not in your last knock for your country.”

To Andrew Symonds: “Ah, Symo, great to see you, mate. How’s everyone, the family? I know you, Symo. If you edge me and I take the catch, I’m going to send you a copy of the scorecard to your home, every day for a year.”

To Ricky Ponting: “Ricky, I don’t think you’re that good at picking up a slow ball.” And believing it’s better to get the skipper’s mind off the game, get him out of the present, he adds: “What about the team for next week, Ricky – picked it yet? I saw those jazzy shoes you had made for yourself – very cool.”

To Michael Clarke, who had changed the sticker on his bat: “That old sticker, Michael, it was always lucky for you. The new one’s not going to bring you the same luck, wait and you see.” When Clarke replied that Nixon was nothing but a club cricketer, Nixon shot back: “How’s it going to feel, Michael, to be caught by a club cricketer? You know what, you’re going to make a club cricketer’s day.”

Not a patch on other sledges but brilliantly irritating.

Postcards from the Sledge (10 of 10)

The last of 10 postcards from Postcards from the Sledge. It’s the end of our exclusive run, and many thanks to Beach for allowing them here. Hopefully I’ve helped him sell a few. In 24 hours, the first ball will be hurled down in Brisbane and the sledging can really start.

Australian Whine

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Postcards from the Sledge (9 of 10)

The ninth of 10 postcards from Postcards from the Sledge

You're only good at swimming

This has added relevance as Ian Thorpe is due to retire, apparently…

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