How to Sledge with Style, a Lesson from Tim Paine and Rishabh Pant

Sports

How to Sledge with Style, a Lesson from Tim Paine and Rishabh Pant

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

“I

t’s red, round, and weighs about five ounces in case you were wondering,” said Greg Thomas to the great Vivian Richards after going past his bat with some rippers in a county game between Glamorgan and Somerset at Taunton. The Welsh fast bowler did get Sir Viv charged up, as the next delivery was smashed out of the ground and landed into a nearby river. The charming West Indian turned around to a hapless Thomas and remarked, “Greg, you know what it looks like, now go and find it.”

Sledging is the fine art of verbal exchange among opponents. The intention is to hurt the concentration and focus of your rival, to piss them off so they can make a mistake. The Americans call it trash-talk, Indians call it bakchodi, and if you’re an Aussie cricketer, it is known as Monday morning at The Gabba. The Australians, for long, championed both the game as well as the verbal barrage, earning a reputation as the bad boys of cricket. Australian legend Dennis Lillee had a famous routine where he’d tell a batsman, “I can see why you’re batting so badly, you’ve got some shit on the end of your bat.” When a gullible batsman looked at the bottom of his bat for some dirt, Lillee would walk away saying, “Nah, wrong end mate!”

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