Monday, February 09, 2004

To sledge or not to sledge!

What gives a cricketer the divine right to sledge his opponents - his team being in a winning position or his individual achievement at that moment (i.e hitting the bowler for a few runs or getting a batsman's wicket with an unplayable delivery). Does age give the cricketer the right to sledge opponents younger than him but not someone older or is it cricketing experience?

Irfan Pathan's detractors among my friends claim that it was improper for a 19 year old green-horn like him to sledge an older and experienced player like Damien Martyn in full view of the millions of TV veiwers while Brad Williams was blameless because no one saw him.

For me, sledging is not a team game. It is just one result of the agressiveness inherent to a fierce competitor. While in a introverted player like Tendulkar or Dravid, the aggressiveness results in increased resolve. But in some, like Pathan, it just translates into mirth - mirth that just bubbles over from his heart on seeing the back of his nemesis. I am not a supporter of sledging, but just the fact that age or nationality should not be the deciding factor when we condone the practice.

Some of the same people who were berating Pathan yesterday were also laughing at Zaheer Khan for staring at the Aussie openers at the Wanderers last year when he was being belted all over the park. But what was he supposed to do? Put his head down and kick at the grass and go back to his mark? Isn't "Hold your head high even at the face of defeat" the first lesson any sportsperson supposed to learn? So why are we blaming our own players for standing up to adversity in their own way? Isn't it our duty as their fans to back them up?

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