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Gavaskar slams Aussies for sledging

July 30, 2003 07:28 IST

Sunil Gavaskar attacked Australia's sledging culture on Tuesday, hinting that sledging threatened to reduce cricket's reputation 'to mud.'

Delivering the annual Colin Cowdrey lecture at Lord's, Gavaskar asked the International Cricket Council to prevent the spread of sledging in cricket.

'Lest I sound pessimistic, let me say that, out of a possible 150 Test cricketers from 10 Test-playing countries, there are perhaps not even 15 who indulge in this verbal abuse and intimidation,' the Indian legend said, adding that most of the players who sledged were Aussies.

'But unfortunately most of these belong to a champion side and it makes others believe it's the only way to play winning cricket.'

'Did Bradman's all-conquering side of 1948 practice these tactics? I don't know, though I know for certain that Clive Lloyd's champions of the 1970s and 1980s never uttered a word on the field to an opponent. A glare and raised eyebrow were enough to put the scare in to you,' he said.

'What does it tell us to have put the spirit of cricket into black and white?' Gavaskar asked. 'It tells us the old adage that, "It's not cricket," which applied to just about everything in life, is no longer valid -- and that's a real pity. In the modern world of commercialisation of the game and the advent of satellite television and the motto of winning at all costs, sportsmanship has gone for a six.'

'With the game being marketed aggressively by television, the rewards have become high, and rightly so, but it has to a great extent taken away from the spirit of the game, where bowlers applauded a good shot and batsmen acknowledged with a nod a good delivery from a bowler who beat them.'

'Today, although there is a code of conduct, the verbal bouncers go on pretty much unchecked and, unless something is done quickly done about it, the good name of the game that we all know will be mud.'

'Just look at any school games anywhere in the world and we will see bowlers having a go at the batsman. They see it on television from their heroes and believe that it is a part of the game, and so indulge in it.'

'It is crucial for the coaches to step in and tell them, while the kids are at an impressionable age, that this is wrong and cricket has been played for years without indulging in personal abuse.'

'We are all custodians of the game, and the game will prosper if we can leave it better than we found it,' he added.

Gavaskar, who still holds the record for most Test hundreds (34), delivered this year's Cowdrey lecture set up by the MCC in the late Bangalore-born, England captain Colin Cowdrey's honour.

'If a player even so much as glares at the umpire or stays a microsecond longer at the crease after being given out, he is hauled up and in trouble,' he said. 'If there is protection for the umpire from the players, why not protection to players from abusive players?'

But the first man to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket said he had not given up entirely on modern cricketers. 'While there is life there is hope. To see both the England and South African teams last week sporting black armbands to mourn the passing of Jacques Kallis' father shows that there are people who believe that sharing in a fellow player's grief does not take away anything from their competitiveness but does help to lessen the grief.'

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