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No sledging, no victory

cricket Updated: Dec 22, 2010 23:49 IST

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Cricketers’ Association chief executive Paul Marsh has attributed Australia’s recent dip in form to a crackdown on sledging by Cricket Australia (CA) after the controversial 2008 Sydney Test against India.

Marsh claimed that Australian cricketers were told to curb their aggression after the Sydney incident.

The test is remembered for a racism charge against India’s Harbhajan Singh for allegedly calling Andrew Symonds a monkey. “I think there is no doubt the team’s performance has been affected,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Marsh as saying.

“Hard, aggressive cricket is in the Australian team’s DNA and unfortunately the players started second-guessing their natural instincts in the heat of battle for fear of reprisals from Cricket Australia or a public backlash from the minority.

Marsh spoke about the steps CA took after the Sydney Test.

“After the Indian Test in Sydney, CA called a meeting of all players, CA senior management, some board directors and myself to discuss the way the Australian team was playing the game and was being perceived by the public.

“There was a directive given by CA that the team needed to change its on-field behaviour. At the time, many of the players disagreed with this directive. However, they took the feedback they were receiving on board and there was an immediate noticeable change in the way the team played

the game,” Marsh said. “Unfortunately, the Australian cricket team was a victim of its own success. They were winning everything there was to win and all of a sudden this success was not enough for some people.

“The team had to not only win but win in a manner that was different from how the Australian cricket team had played over several decades. In my view it was a classic tall poppy syndrome story and I said so at the time.”