Talking Sport: Ashes shows the need for different type of boundaries in cricket

Michael Clarke in action against England earlier this year  Picture by Barry Zee
Michael Clarke in action against England earlier this year Picture by Barry Zee

Professional sport is an emotive and passionate entity in which men and women use every tool at their disposal to end up on the winning side, writes James Sandford.

This can, however, lead to people overstepping the mark as they adhere to a win-at-all-costs mentality.

A spiky Ashes series kicked off last week with a somewhat disappointing England performance and a drubbing at the hands of the Aussies. However the stories about the issue of the Aussie captain’s sledging antics have taken centre stage.

For those that aren’t au fait with cricketing terminology, sledging is the process by which the fielders try to gain an advantage over the batsmen. This is done by insulting or verbally intimidating them to reduce their concentration and force mistakes.

It is common for this type of behaviour to be described as ‘banter’ and many professional cricketers defend its use in the modern game.

After telling England bowler James Anderson he could be in for broken bones in last week’s Test match, Australian captain Michael Clarke said: “Through my career, there has always been banter on the cricket field - and I cop as much as I give, that’s for sure, I’ve heard a lot worse said on a cricket field than what the Australia players or the England players said throughout this Test.”

It does seem as if the issue is a point of concern for some, including England manager Andy Flower. He has said: “The competition should be intense. But I think we need good leaders who know where to draw the line, and they need to be good role models.”

So where is the line Flower mentions? I completely understand that modern sport has the smallest of margins between victory and defeat. But I fail to comprehend the necessity for players to threaten or victimise the opposition in the pursuit of this success. In the modern world there’s a plethora of ways to improve performance.

I know sledging won’t be completely eradicated, and I don’t believe it should be.

I am sure, however, that with a bit of common sense the sporting world can agree to keep behind that slightly grey line, and stick to good natured competition laced with a bit of humour.

Mind the windows, Tino.

* Agree or disagree with James? Let him know on Twitter - @james_sandford

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