Where do you draw the line when it comes to sledging in your own club games?
The whole Australia-India controversy was sparked by a possible comment by Harbhajan. Since then it has thrown up a number of issues and a lot of debate but I want to bring it back to club cricket.
Have you noticed a huge rise in chirping in your club games in the last 10 years? I have.
I imagine this has come about mainly thanks to the huge success of Australia and their tactics of 'mental disintegration'. This seems to have filtered through. First via other national sides then down through professional cricket and into the amateur and junior games.
There have been many calls in the last few days for sledging to be ruled out altogether. If it causes this much of an issue perhaps it should be. After all we have the spirit of the game to answer to. I'm convinced that if sledging stopped instantly in the International game it would not take long for every other level to follow.
But that's not the answer.
Part of the attraction of cricket is it's mental challenge. It is a cerebral as well as physical sport and part of that test is being able to focus for long periods of time. If you can break a batsman's concentration and make him doubt himself of his tactics you are more likely to get him out. If you take away that aspect you lose something of the uniqueness of this fine game.
Does this justify anyone calling Andrew Symonds a monkey?
Not a bit.
There is a balance to be found. A line we should never cross and a spirit we should always play under. Play hard, play fair, have a beer afterwards.
How can we draw that line? I think most people know where the line is really. Most people know that overt aggression, personal insults, abuse and racist comments can't be accepted at any level.
That's not going to stop me buzzing in batsmen's ear this season though. If I didn't I wouldn't be playing hard enough and that's not fair on the batsman.
What do you think?© Copyright miSport Holdings Ltd 2008