Cricket was known as a gentlemen’s game. Not any more. Sledging has become an integral part of this game which is used mostly by the fielding side to provoke and upset the batsmen so that they lose their concentration, and play rash and thereby, end up losing their wicket. Sometimes, batsmen also do it to provoke a bowler into bowling bouncers ie short pitch balls when they don’t want full length deliveries as confessed by Siddhu during a programme. Surprisingly, stalwarts of this game do not mind these tactics at all. Consider the recent incident of quarter final match between Australia and Pakistan. An Aussie bowler sledged into the ears of Pakistani batsman, Wahab Riaz, who then retaliated with a fiery spell of fast bowling which the Aussies found too hot to handle. Aussies still won the game which is what they wanted to achieve. Wahab was able to retaliate simply because he was basically a bowler. The stalwart, Brian Lara has come in support of such sledging and against any action against any of these players. They think it is part of the game. But the game is played not for the players themselves, else there was no need for any live telecast on TV and hundreds of crores of rupees involved in such games. They can do anything they want in their private games. But when games are played for entertainment of crores of people who are paying for it in several ways, it must be played from their point of view, for sheer entertainment in most gentle manner.
We Indians are an emotional race. We find it extremely difficult to sledge in cool comfiture. Whenever our players sledge, they do it out of anger, in frustration, in retaliation, and not out of strategy. This is a great disadvantage to them because they are likely to go over-board, get exposed and penalized, whereas the opponents, who do it as a tactic and not out of anger, are quite in control of themselves when they sledge, and hence, are rarely penalized.
Question is, shouldn’t this sledging be stopped in the game which should be played in friendly manner especially when we Indians simply love this game. In fact, today, India dominates the world cricket in the sense that sheen goes out of any major tournament including world cup or champions trophy if Indian team makes an early exit. Advertising revenues drop drastically. For this reason, even opponents want India to remain live in the tournament until the end so that money keeps flowing into the game, advertisers remain interested in exploiting this charm.
Then, it is only fair that sledging is stopped. In any case, it should amount to crime for someone to deliberately use foul language with foul intentions in order to provoke another person with the object of annoying him so much that he loses his concentration, and gets out, means, with intention of causing harm to him, as well as his team. Since lot of prize money is involved in all major tournaments, this amounts to defrauding the opponent financially as well.
If existing criminal laws do not recognize that, they can be amended to take mandatory cognizance of sledging in any game, whether on the field or outside, whether in India or overseas as long as any Indian players representing India are involved, whether as perpetrators or as target of such sledging. The law can make it mandatory for these players and their managers to report the same to local police, if the incident has taken place in India, or first Indian port after landing in India if the incident has taken place overseas. The law can ensure that the accused is arrested and released on bail, and where the accused is a foreigner in a foreign country, warrants are served through high commissioner into that country, and can go on to provide that if such warrants are not respected, that accused to be compulsorily arrested whenever he arrives in India and be ineligible for bail.
I believe that such law will immediately end sledging because no cricketing country can afford to ignore India, even without Indian Premier League (IPL), and they would not risk their players being permanently barred from entering India. This step should restore the reputation of cricket being gentlemen’s game once again.