Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, an Australian cricket team's coach decided the Aussies should stop sledging.
Well, actually, it was only two years ago in South Africa when "Boof" Lehmann suggested the Ugly Ockers, on the heels of their sandpaper cheating scandal, might try to be more like the Black Caps in "the way they play and respect the opposition."
But breeding will win out and Mitchell Starc, tall, dark and threatening, right down to his Denis Lillee drooping-moustache, showed all that nice guy stuff was distant history when, in the first test in what would become the whipping of the Black Caps in a three test series, found himself bowling on day four at Optus Stadium in Perth to poor Jeet Raval, out of touch and out of runs, having scored just one from 18 balls.
"You wouldn't want to ruin it," smirked Starc, "the last chance of your career."
The next test was to be the Boxing Day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"Christmas is pretty good when you have it off though," said Starc. "They do good lunches for Christmas in Melbourne." (And, yes, if by chance you can't remember, it was Starc off whom Nathan Lyon took the catch to dismiss Raval for one, and Raval was dropped for the MCG test.)
Sledging in sport can range from the genuinely humorous to the boorish, with Starc's words in Perth a mix of both.
Abhor it, love it, or be amused by it, but sledging can work.
Muhammad Ali always swore that the weird stuff he did before stunning the world by winning the heavyweight boxing title from Sonny Liston in 1964, like turning up at Liston's house in the middle of the night and challenging him to a bare knuckle fight on the front lawn, was a clever plot to make Liston believe that Ali was literally insane.
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"He thought I was crazy," Ali would later say, "and everyone's scared of a crazy person."
However, it does pay to be like Ali, able to back up the posturing.
In the 1990s New Zealand rugby players noted that the more frantic the threats of "we will kill you" from Natal and Springbok lock Mark Andrews became, the more likely it was that the chance of victory was slipping away from the team Andrews was playing for.
It was recognising the Andrews syndrome in their own ranks that led the Black Caps to formally decide to drop the confrontational, faux bully-boy stuff on the field, letting how they played do the talking for them, rather than trying to behave like a poor man's Australian side.
The Black Caps had gone to Melbourne in October, 2014, four months before the ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, to check out the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a venue many had never played at.
After the MCG visit, back at their hotel, they gathered in a conference room and set out, as then senior paceman Kyle Mills recalls, "to work out what a New Zealander who was a cricket fan would like to see us do."
"We decided we wouldn't follow the English model, nor the Australian one. We'd try to find a New Zealand way".
The lead was taken by captain Brendon McCullum - not famous until then for being a woke New Age guy - and stopping silly yapping on the pitch was part of a sea change which included desperately chasing every ball in the field, and batting and bowling aggressively.
It transformed the team. McCullum suggested at the meeting they were seen as under performing prima donnas. In the middle of the 2015 World Cup, with the team on a bustling but softly spoken winning streak, there was a moment at a provincial airport, Mills said, when fans clustered around to get selfies and heap praise on the players.
"Jeez," a fellow Black Cap said to Mills, "they really like us."
(In passing, the move to nice guy chat from a New Zealand cricketer might have started in the 1980s. In after-dinner speeches once he retired, one of our greatest opening batsman, John Wright, would offer his opinion on how a batsman should have approached facing the most fearsome fast bowler in world cricket in the '80s, the West Indian, Michael Holding. Wright suggested the batsman say, "Hello Michael, lovely day. How are the wife and kids? I hope they're all well.")
To be fair, at its best, sledging can be genuinely amusing. Take what may be the earliest cricket sledge ever delivered.
In 1898, legendary Englishman Dr WG Grace was almost 50 years old, and in the twilight of his career had a habit of refusing to walk, even when given out lbw by an umpire.
Playing for Gloucestershire against Essex, Grace had two stumps uprooted by a fierce delivery from fast bowler, Charles Kortright, after Grace had bullied the umpire out of several dismissals. As Grace started to walk off, Kortright said, "Surely you're not going Doctor? There's still one stump standing."
Demon Yorkshire and English paceman of the 1960s, Fred Trueman, had a brilliant reply for a Cambridge University batsman, who drawled "excellent delivery, old chap" after his stumps had been scattered by a Trueman yorker. "Aye," said Trueman, "and it were bloody wasted on thee."
At its worst, sledging can lead to real violence.
In 1985 at Lang Park in Brisbane, opposing props Kiwi Kevin Tamati and Australian Greg Dowling were both sent to the sin bin. Dowling, walking behind Tamati, was talking almost all the way to the sideline, when Tamati suddenly wheeled round and a brutal punch-up started. (Veteran league reporter, the late Brian Doherty, would forever be amused by the fact Queensland cops let the brawl flow on until they realised the much bigger Dowling was copping a pasting from the Kiwi, who had been a good amateur boxer.)
In 2008, Tamati told a TV3 journalist why he had exploded.
"There were derogatory remarks about my colour, who I was, and my ancestry." Amongst other remarks, the phrase "black bastard" stood out. At a private sporting lunch, Tamati would later tell me that until race came into the frame, he was able to contain himself.
On the other hand, the most brilliant and telling sledge I've ever seen was non-verbal but more crushingly dismissive than any words could have been.
At the start line of the eighth race in the America's Cup in 2017, Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling had basically tied Jimmy Spittle on Oracle into a figure eight knot, to the point where Spittle and his $10 million boat were at a standstill.
As Burling and the Kiwi boat came cruising past, Burling glanced across and caught the eye of his rival.
Burling didn't shake a fist, or raise a middle finger. Instead, as every Kiwi farmer driving his ute on a dusty back road does, he flicked a casual index finger in greeting. For a couple of seconds, Fred Dagg, John Clarke's brilliant invention from the 1970s, was at the helm of a hi-tech AC72.