I have a simple view on sledging and more so on high-moral grounds that people suddenly seem to want to adopt when it comes to sledging.
My question is simple: If someone is crass enough to say something crude, vulgar and distasteful to me about a people that I adore and worship and respect (say, my mother, my sister, my child, my wife or even my best friend) through a sequence of expletives, pray how would I deem that that person was worthy of my respect and observe a line in the sand? How does that person automatically wear nappies and point to lines in the sand? Where is the sand when that person himself has questioned my lineage and parentage? Why should I not question that person’s lineage in any way I know?
In saying this, I am not condoning Harbhajan Singh who is reported to have called Andrew Symonds a “monkey”. Not many people walk up to another person and call them randomly hurtful names. There is no doubt in my mind that Harbhajan Singh was provoked, if indeed he did call Symonds a “monkey”. If he was provoked, and if that provocation brought into focus and question a class of people that Harbhajan Singh respected/adored/admired/worshipped, then why should he not be allowed to issue an no-holds-barred spray of his own to the perpetrator? Why should he not brandish his sword and get stuck into the perpetrator? I am not absolving Harbhajan Singh. But it is a legitimate question to ask. Is it not?
There are no “lines in the sand”. If McGrath asks Sarawan what Lara’s tool tastes like, he should expect that he would be requested to ask that question of his wife. There are no lines in the sand. Pray why is McGrath’s wife the only one for whom a “line in the sand” applies? Is that only because she was not playing the game? Are Sarawan and Lara any less human than McGrath’s wife just because they were playing at the time? If Andrew Symonds had questioned Harbhajan Singh’s lineage, he should expect that his own lineage could be questioned too. Surely!
There is only one way to stop all of this nonsense. On a cricket field, the only objects that can be allowed to talk are the bat and the ball. Cricket is not played with the mouth, for heavens sake! A cricket ball whacked into the mouth hurts! That is why helmets were invented. Hello!
Australians invented sledging. They practice it and perfect it. Now, every team in the world carries on. Any team that sledges should accept whatever comes with that territory and stop donning nappies to worry about lines in the sand. There ain’t none. If sledging continues on unabated, we will see more “monkeying” and “rabbiting on”, not less.
The ICC has to step in, in my view and ban any talk on the field.
And for Australia to complain about “appropriate sledging” is a bit rich. If you throw a stone in the gutter you ought to expect a splash-back to soil your own clothes. The mafia cannot ask for a rule book on proper methods of killing.