Sticking Up For The SledgeAs we find ourselves giddily elbow deep in another Ashes series, the ongoing topic of sledging will undoubtedly rear its bulbous head. I know this can be a bit of a touchy topic, and as a whole we appear quite evenly split between who is for and who is against the sledge, but I think it’s fair to say most people who have actually played cricket love a bit of chat out on the paddock.
More than any other sport, cricket is about gaining a psychological edge over your opponent, and when you’re spending days on end in the field, sledging can be as much about staving off boredom as anything else. With boredom come lapses in concentration, and lo-and-behold you’ve dropped a catch and everybody hates you.
There will be as much workplace banter around Sydney as there will be at Trent Bridge during this Ashes series, and while I certainly hope no one has to endure a relentless purge of heckle every time they try and fill out a spreadsheet or hammer a nail, I certainly encourage a little bit of healthy banter to help get us through the day.
If you’re worried your child is going to start unleashing psychological warfare on his or her siblings because Brad Haddin gets in Joe Root’s ear at Lords: a) I think you’ll find the kid is probably already doing it; and b) it reflects far more on you as a parent, and has little or nothing to do with Brad Haddin.
On the other hand, if you are concerned about letting your children play organised sport because the opposition may taunt them and they may get upset, that’s fair enough, but I honestly think you will be doing your children a disservice.
There will be instances in everyone’s life when they will be bullied in one way or another. Even bullies get bullied. It pays to have a thick skin and, strangely enough (and I can attest to this first-hand), standing out in the middle of an oval for a few hours while eleven strangers unleash a volley of ‘mum jokes’ is a very effective way to achieve this.
Yes, ‘mum jokes’ are incredibly boorish and immature, and Michael Clarke’s extraordinarily aggressive threat to James Anderson last summer wasn’t exactly harmless banter, but you need to cut them a little slack. Cricketers can hardly be expected to maintain an Oscar Wilde-esque level of wit over eight hours in the sun.
Ideally, we would all be nice to each other, but we’re not. Since I’ve moved to the Eastern Suburbs, I have sadly found this more obvious than any other place in the world, apart from maybe London. Just remember, sticks and stones may break our bones, but games will never hurt us… and, yes, I realise that doesn’t actually quite work, as contact sports most definitely can hurt us, but you get what I mean.