It all starts when Dave Warner says wistfully he wants to tone things down in the backchat department.
Go for it mate, says Captain Clarke. No one asked you to be an arsehole anyway.
Let’s make the whole Ashes campaign sledge-free, says Jimmy Anderson, unravelling himself from the lotus position. That series we played against New Zealand was just lovely. All that cuddling and kumbaya.
That’s interesting coming from you, Jimmy, says Mitchell Johnson. You’re one of the worst offenders.
Yeah, says Brad Haddin. And I’m going to use his actual quote here because it’s that good. Here goes.
“I don’t understand where they’re coming with this. I don’t understand this pleasant – I don’t know what it’s …? … could you explain to me what it’s?”
We won’t win by out-sledging Australia, says altar boy Stuart Broad, picking daffodils while frolicking in the meadow. We’ll beat them by smiling. And showing off our shiny new Australian coach.
Ha ha, says Shane Warne. You wait till Anderson and Broad are batting. “The Aussie fielders will be like koalas round a eucalyptus tree.”
For the record, this is what that looks like. So yeah, quiver in your boots, England.
Those Aussies are Dad’s Army, says Jason Gillespie. The trick is to keep them out in the field all day and get ‘em all tuckered out.
Fair dinkum, Dizzy, says the Aussie eleven. You’ve spent too long in England, mate. You’ve forgotten which side to sledge.
Oh, sorry lads, says Dizzy. I still think the Aussies will win.
Except I doubt Mitch Johnson can have two golden summers, says Alastair Cook. I sure wasn’t able to.
Don’t you worry about Mo, says Adam Voges. He had Steve Smith on his bum in the nets. And enjoy holding that urn while you can, Cookie.
We’re not scared of Smithy either, says Graeme Swann. He’ll struggle against the swinging ball.
Are you kidding, says Boof Lehmann. Smudge got about 1999 in his last Test. He’s the best batsman in the world. I reckon he can handle anything you blokes dish up. Anyway, I thought this sledging was supposed to stop.
The person I’m really looking forward to having a crack at is Shane Watson, says Test newbie Mark Wood. Wait your turn, buddy, says every Australian cricket spectator and player.
Looks, says Kevin Pietersen, forlornly hugging his cricket bat. I reckon there should be more sledging. The Ashes is war, not a love-in.
Yeah, says Davey Warner, in a backflip of political proportions. There’s got to be a bit of niggle.
That’s a relief, says everyone. This being nice caper was doing my head in. Geez my cheeks ache.
A new approach to sledging
Anyway, I’m proposing some new guidelines for sledging. Let’s face it, the standards have slipped in recent years. But a good sledge is a thing of wonder and should be encouraged.
So let’s raise the stakes a bit. Let’s make the outcome of a Test match dependent on batting, bowling, fielding… and sledging.
Here’s what I propose.
A clever, funny, entertaining sledge scores an extra run for your side. This means the fielding side can open their run chase without even padding up if their barbs are good enough.
A boring, lazy, name-calling sledge scores a run for the other side. Same with expletives. A good sledge doesn’t require that kind of adornment.
A panel of three comedians will sit with the third umpire and review all sledges. Their decision is final. There is no appeal system.
Under no circumstances will Russell Brand be allowed on the panel.
Brad Haddin scores a run for England every time he opens his mouth. Even if it’s just to yawn. Same with Shane Watson. And Stuart Broad. Let’s not pretend these guys have anything clever or funny to say.
The Mitchell Johnson death stare scores a run for Australia as the gold standard of non-verbal sledging. It’s a work of art that’d give Julie Bishop a run for her money. Clarkie can bowl him from both ends and win the Ashes without even batting.
So there you have it. Give me your thoughts. I’m sure we can refine these guidelines further before submitting them to the ICC.
And go Aussies!