Some may call it banter, others as bitter verbal volleys, but sledging and aggressive mannerisms have always provided that extra edge and spice to the ‘gentleman’s game’ that makes rivalries grow.
While an India-Pakistan or an Ashes series has things on the boil even before a single delivery is bowled, a few others have often been memorable simply with cricketers crossing the line on and off the field.
Even in the recently concluded second Test, after Aussie skipper Steve Smith was welcomed by an animated Ishant Sharma, the duo were the most trending topic throughout the day.
It had nothing to do with their contributions on the pitch though, with the former scoring just eight and Sharma returning figures of 1/48 in the first innings.
However, at the heat of the moment, in front of more than 15,000 people glued to the 22 yards, and the pressure of their respective sides on their shoulders, no one expects the players to be like gentlemen walking out for an executive meeting.
While Kohli had a befitting reply in store for Ian Healy, there have been such cases throughout the history of the game. In fact, Kohli had to put himself on a leash on his aggression. He credits coach Anil Kumble for toning him down and channeling it in the right direction.
Look Down Under
For Healy to say that he lost respect for Kohli for his over-aggressiveness, the former Australia stumper needs to look at some of his fellow countrymen who have been champions at getting under the skin of the opposition.
After all, the Baggy Greens had earned the tag of “Ugly Australians” back in the 1970s. In recent times as well, Michael Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fees for allegedly threatening James Anderson to get ready for a broken arm during the 1st Test of the Ashes 2013-14.
The Glenn McGrath-Ramnaresh Sarwan incident at Antigua was a classic example of what actually goes around when eleven Aussies are down on the ground. However, a few, like Ian Botham had classic replies in store as well. Once, on being asked by Rod Marsh how his wife and two kids were, Botham replied: “The wife’s fine, the kids are retarded though.”
To cite examples, the Australians are the best side to draw references from, given that they’ve had probably said everything possible to batsmen to unnerve them. Thus, to hear an Australian say that he’s lost respect for an Indian captain who is just a tad more animated, indeed comes as a surprise.
But as stated earlier, banters always help add spice to the game and the healthy ones often go down as funny incidents. Taking a walk down memory lane at a sports interactive meet recently, Gavaskar recalled one against the West Indies when he wanted to bat at No 4 but had to face a hat-trick ball in the very first over after Malcolm Marshall sent back Anshuman Gaekwad and Dilip Vengsarkar in successive deliveries.
“So, here I was, to go play a hat-trick ball whereas I had decided to relax a bit before going in to bat. And just when I was about to cross Marshall on the pitch, he said ‘Hey Sunny, no matter what number you bat at man, the score is still zero’,” Gavaskar said, as the audience burst into laughter.