Since its inception, cricket as a sport has been celebrated all over the world. As the players gear up and step on to the field, they all want to play a crucial role in helping their teams move towards victory. As a result, there is elevated competition among opponents that leads to spats quite often. Though good competition is essential in any sport, irresponsible behaviour that includes sledging and banters from players under pressure gives a bad name to cricket, which is known to be a gentleman’s game. Yes, a bit of on-field quarrel is part and parcel of the game, but in many cases, sledging has gone too far.
Adversity should lead to struggle and better game on the pitch rather than turning it into ugly fights! The growing sledging matters raise a question – Is sledging becoming a part of cricket? Is it true sportsmanship? Though cricket is famous all around the world for whopping talent, name and fame, there have also been a number of instances in history of cricket degrading the sportsmen spirit. Let’s have a look at the top five nastiest altercations in the history of cricket.
1. Pakistan’s Javed Miandad against Australia’s Dennis Lillee
Most high profile players of the 1980s, Miandad and Lillee came up against each other when Pakistan toured Australia in the year 1981, where Miandad was the skipper. This altercation was also known as the most humiliating instance in the history of test cricket. In this incident from 1981, where Australia and Pakistan were playing against each other, renowned players Miandad and Lillee got into a clash. As Miandad played Lillee inswinger for a single, he collided with the bowler while completing the run. Lillee got into the way and Miandad had to push him to complete the run. Lillee claimed that it was Miandad who hit him on his back. Almost a brawl, Lillee kicked Miandad on his way back who hurried towards him with a bat, but the umpires averted the big fight. Eventually, Cricket Australia put a ban on Lillee for two matches.
2. Australian legend in a rant with West Indies Marlon Samuels
In the 2012-13 season of Big Bash T20 game, Shane Warne and Samuels first entered into a verbal fight where the legend Warne grabbed the West Indies player by his jersey shirt and almost poked his finger into his face. But that wasn’t enough; while fielding a drive by Samuels, Warne threw the ball from very close at Samuels when he stood at the crease. Samuels retaliated by throwing the bat in the air above Warne’s head. This incident could have turned uglier, but it was controlled by the umpires and players. Shane Warne had to face a one-match ban and fine after this clash with Samuels.
3. Australia’s Glenn McGrath and West Indies Ramnaresh Sarwan exchanged blows
In 2003, West Indies had formed history as they chased the top score in the test format. In the same match, McGrath used foul words that were a dark phase for cricket. Sarwan didn’t stop himself and replied in the same foul language involving the name of McGrath’s wife who was diagnosed with breast cancer at that time (Sarwan was unaware of this). With Mcgrath’s wife, Jane, going through a hard time, it was a sledge that backfired and he went on hurling abuse at Sarwan pointing his finger towards him in a threatening style. It was the most shameful act in public bringing a bad name to cricket. However, later both the players regretted their action.
4. Ugly IPL Sledging
In the 2014 Indian Premier League (IPL), Australia’s Mitchell Starc who was playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore and West Indies’ Kieron Pollard playing for Mumbai Indians (MI) had a revolting clash. It was the ugliest sledging incident in the IPL history. When Starc bowled a fierce bouncer at Pollard followed by sledging, Pollard pulled out. But Starc didn’t abort the delivery. He instead bowled in anger close to Pollard’s legs. Irritated Pollard swung his bat that seemed to be a throw at Starc, but fortunately, it slipped and dropped on the leg side. It could have hurt Starc badly had it fallen on him. A verbal spat followed after this incident. The heated altercation led to penalisation of match fees of both the players. Going against the IPL’s code of conduct, it was a demeaning act for cricket.
5. War of Words between Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi and India’s Gautam Gambhir
The rivalry between India and Pakistan when it comes to cricket is quite evident. It was in the third ODI in Kanpur (2007) that another disgraceful incident took place. Gambhir had hit a four off Afridi’s delivery after which exchange of abusive expressions followed. It turned worse as both Gambhir and Afridi collided into each other intentionally, while Gambhir was running for single. Both were obstinate and consciously collided followed by a verbal spat. It was again a shameful instance for cricket where a versatile batsman like Gambhir and the senior most player of Pakistan, Shahid Afridi acted immaturely and the umpires had to control the situation.