Verbal abuse just not cricket

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2013
Wickets
Mytchell Bransgrove

FINE LINE: Auckland cricketers say there’s a line between banter and verbal abuse.

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As The Ashes series across the ditch heats up, cricket clubs here are urging players not to engage in verbal abuse to gain an edge over the opposition.

Australian skipper Michael Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fees after telling English rival James Anderson to "get ready for a broken arm" in the fiery first test last week.

And the Aussie sledgers have made it clear they won't be easing off in the next Ashes test tomorrow.

Former International Cricket Council umpire manager Doug Cowie says outright sledging, insults and bad language is not in line with the spirit of the "gentleman's game".

The St Heliers man says during a test players will crack jokes and try to get into the opposition's headspace but there is a fine line between banter and abuse.

"People do make comments to each other and as long as it's within the boundaries of maintaining respect it is fine but outside of that things do get reported and punished, as we saw with Clarke."

Cornwall Cricket Club premier player Matt Davies says sledging can be a psychological art when used wisely.

"It's not like it doesn't happen. It's happening all across Auckland but just without the microphones to pick it up."

Heckling other players to gain a tactical advantage has roots back to 1960s Australian cricket. Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes had a particular reputation for sledging and is remembered for the line: "If you turn the bat over you'll get the instructions, mate."

Sometimes sledging is witty and entertaining, premier club umpire and Auckland University Cricket Club manager Richard Walker says.

It creeps into lower-grade club games and it is part of an umpire's job to manage that, he says.

"Some of the players are very good at it, and if they are, it can be very funny. Basically, if I'm smiling it's fine and if I'm not then it's not appropriate. Things like personal and racial abuse are not on."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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