Thursday, May 1, 2014

Does Aggression mean Sledging?

With cricket being played round the year, we often hear this word sledging being discussed repeatedly, in fact, I got conversant with this word only because of cricket. Many sportsman mistake sledging to be a form of aggression, which is a must for any sportsman in competitive sport. But I am afraid that’s not the case. Aggression on the field does not mean you abuse, slander the opponents based on their race, color or the country of their origin, etc. That's not aggression, but foul play to put simply, and it has no place in civilized society and definitely in cricket which is called the gentleman's game. Unfortunately the truth is, we still see many cases of sledging on the cricketing field. Aussies are considered to be the proponents of sledging in cricket and they don’t shy away from practicing it, be it on or off the field.

The Aussies are a tough nut to crack and they play the game hard; their “never say die” attitude is something which is part of their sports culture. I think this trait of theirs should be imbibed by other cricketers. But then, they go overboard most of the time and cross the boundary of gamesmanship when they mistake sledging to be aggression. In the past, there have been a number of instances wherein they have been involved in verbal duels with fellow cricketers, abusing, vilifying them under the garb of playing the game hard, but in doing so, they hurt the feelings of others. Owing to this nature of theirs they are not liked and adored by the cricketing fraternity. In the eighties when the West Indies had the most ferocious cricketers, they ruled the game for many years. They ruthlessly decimated the opponents wherever they played, but they never ever rubbed the teams the wrong way or indulged in something that would tarnish the sportsmanship and hence they were the most loved team then and even now. That won’t be said about the Aussie cricketers when they were the dominant force in the nineties. They were often involved in controversies for their sledging and on field behavior. I think they suffer from the “foot in the mouth syndrome” and they blur out the choicest of expletives whenever they get an opportunity.
Sometime back their very own talented player James Faulkner said something uncalled for against the West Indians. The West Indians came hard at him and thrashed his bowling taking it to the cleaners; this resulted in a near fatal loss for the Aussies. This is not surprising and there have been many instances where the Aussies have been involved in verbal spats with many cricketers. Sarwan – McGrath altercation, Harbhajan – Symonds monkey-gate, the recent toxic talk by many Aussie players against Stuart Broad or Jonathan Trott or the old rivalry between Ian chapel and Ian Botham. Whenever they have been embroiled in the on field transgression or have been probed on their shenanigans, they say we love to play hard and we play to win. Now, no team plays to loose, and that does not give anybody the license to misbehave or bring ignominy to the game. It would be unfair to name just them in the sledging saga. There have been instances where players from other countries have resorted to this false way of aggression.

Aggression does not mean you pump your fists, beat the chest and make a lot of noise or abuse people. Aggression can also be expressed by showing great resolve in precarious situations, to fight it out, and not allow the opposition trample you, by displaying grit and gumption. This is something which the games great have practiced. Cricketing greats like Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Ganguly, Lara, Kapil Dev, Malcolm Marshall, Chaminda Vaas, Steve Waugh, Don Bradman, Nasser Hussain and many more have been aggressive in their approach but never ever misbehaved or demonstrated aggression which crossed the line of decency. They were aggressive enough to fight and win matches for their home country without bringing any disrepute to the game of cricket.

Unfortunately, many players still resort to sledging or mental disintegration to score over others. They need to realize that they have the arsenal, fire power in their cricketing abilities to score over their opponents and they don’t need to provoke or sledge to score a point. They need to understand, Sledging and Aggression are not the same and aggression can be demonstrated even without slandering someone. If this is imbibed and practiced, the menace called Sledging would be kept at bay and teams would fight it out in the premises of gamesmanship and sportsmanship, fostering bonhomie.
Play the game hard and in the right spirit and say no to SLEDGING.

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