Not only does Australia boast the world’s most dominant cricket
team in both international forms of the game, but it has also long been
recognised as the game’s pre-eminent “sledgers”. What Steve Waugh
euphemistically described as the practice of “mental disintegration”
which qualifies him as a considerable loss to the Australian PR
industry, critics of the Australian team’s enthusiasm for verbally
abusing opponents has long been a running sore both in and out of the
game, where many see it as unsportsmanlike and bullying.

Its acknowledged master exponent has long been Shane Warne, which makes
him a world beater in two of the game’s disciplines. And it was no
surprise to find that he is now again in the eye of the hurricane as he
professionally applies his acidic tongue and questionable sense of
humour to the shrinking violets of county cricket in the UK, as
Hampshire captain. While Australian players have a self-observed code
of conduct where sledging is supposedly reduced to a more sedate
conversational art form out on the field of battle, Warne’s parameters
seem more liberal than the code’s actual intentions.

Sussex skipper Chris Adams said
he’s lost all respect for Warne after accusing the Aussie
“verbaliser” of trying to “humiliate” members of his team during a
Championship game at Hove last week.

Warne and Hampshire are now returning fire at Adams: “We regard his
views as somewhat hypocritical given the way Chris himself behaved
during this match and previous Hampshire-Sussex fixtures,” a Hampshire
statement declared overnight. “It is clear that Shane Warne’s stature
in the game makes him a target for incitement and we witnessed examples
of this last season. However, we are not inclined to elaborate on any
incident publicly.”

Warne is apparently more forthcoming on the latest controversy in an interview for The Times.
“I am sick and tired of being cast as the villain because English
captains give one side of the story. I do not like getting involved in
tit for tat, but I am fed up with copping flak about sledging when
there are two sides to the story. If Adams has lost respect for me,
then I can certainly say that whatever respect I had for him has
disappeared, too. I suggest Adams takes his dummy out of his mouth, and
try to keep pace with some real cricketers.”

You’ve got to hand it to Warney – even when he’s on the back foot he can’t resist a good sledge!

CRIKEY: Meanwhile, in part two of Ross Stapleton’s interview with outgoing Australian Cricketers’
Association CEO Tim May, he discusses the problems facing cricket
where pay TV is becoming increasingly important as a broadcast partner
and this year’s earlier threat of having no Ashes series coverage on
free-to-air.

You can read it here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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