Dylan Cleaver on sport

Sport analysis and comment from APN's Head of Sport Dylan Cleaver

Dylan Cleaver: Detestable tantrums no substitute for sledging

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Nothing funny about outbursts at Gabba.

Let us lament the lost art of sledging, officially consigned to antiquity at the Gabba, replaced instead by bile and boorishness.

Sledging can be clever, occasionally witty, but mostly it's white noise you hope will seep into a batsman's synapses. An audible conversation between the keeper and slips about how the batsman is playing around his pad a lot these days - that's sledging. A reminder about past vulnerabilities - that's sledging. Even a casual, perhaps even unkind, reference to a recent visit to the Advanced Hair Studio can be termed sledging.

James "Patto" Pattinson and Peter "Sid" Siddle at the Gabba - that's not sledging. It's a verbal assault. And it's pathetic.

Pattinson engaged in a running war with the South African skipper after Graeme Smith had the temerity to step away when a bird flew across his vision. This abuse carried on until he got Smith's wicket, which was greeted with a predictable send-off and tacit approval from the neanderthal portion of cricket's fanbase who believe that means can be justified by ends.

Smith is not the most sympathetic character to have graced the game. You may recall the usually unflappable Stephen Fleming greeting his arrival at the crease during a one-dayer with a volley of finger-pointing advice.

(Should this be deemed Aussie-bashing, New Zealanders are as well-versed in unedifying etiquette as anybody.)

Anyway, Smith was well within his rights. Channel Nine's cameras did not need hotspot, GPS, or even Bill Lawry to track the avian's flight across Smith's line of sight as Pattinson was in his delivery stride. Smith didn't do the right thing, he did the only thing.

But Pattinson clearly feels he needs to live up to the Archetypal Ugly Australian ideal. You might remember him firing out abuse left, right and centre in his first series this time last year against New Zealand. As we saw during Australia's humiliation at the hands of New Zealand in Hobart, when Tim Southee chipped him all the way back to the pavilion after his second innings dismissal, Pattinson can give it, but he can't take it.

Emboldened by his younger State-mate, Siddle, the Victorian woodchopper gave classy No 3 Hashim Amla a gobful after a rejected appeal. Australia's leaked dossier had highlighted the fact they would look to attack Amla in this way, but this wasn't premeditated, it was unhinged.

It was cricket's equivalent of a bar-room brawl where a lagered-up lout punches some unsuspecting innocent because he wrongly thought he was eyeing up his sheila. Siddle was sure he had Amla caught behind, only he hadn't.

Hotspot, praised to the heavens by Channel Nine's apologists/commentators as the greatest technological breakthrough since the spinning jenny, was suddenly, according to Michael "Slats" Slater, open to interpretation as the outside edge of Amla's bat came up clean.

Umpire Asad "Raufy" Rauf tried unsuccessfully to calm Siddle down. Ian "Chappelli" Chappell made the valid point that he would be better off going through the captain than a steamed-up fast bowler. As though the commentary booth was connected via a portal to the umpire's brain Rauf turned to Michael Clarke. The skipper stood and laughed, proving that an unbeaten 259 can buy you some sparkly ear-rings, but it can't buy you class.

"Friendly banter", Clarke described it as. "Smithy was having a good laugh and Patto was doing the same."

Yeah, hilarious. About as funny as being punched on the nose in a pub by a drunk.

- NZ Herald

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