26 May, 2022


Cricket As War: Shit In The Cricketing Lounge

By Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

Is cricket akin to war? It surely cannot be. Whether in the American Civil Warthe trenches of the Somme, the battle fields in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya and other African civil conflicts or the Eelam Wars between Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan state, the blood and gore of injury and death in large numbers destroy any effort at arguing similarity. The ramifying grief among kin folk immediately associated with such events surely makes this crystal clear.

War, moreover, sees one of the adversaries seeking imbalance and advantage. At times this occurs even before war commences because an instigating belligerent sees an advantage in the balance of weapons and proceeds to manufacture acasus belli.

Cricket, in contrast, is built on the foundations of a “level playing field.” Umpires are an integral facet of the game precisely for this reason. The level playing field can be skewed by chance in the form of changing weather conditions or on-field injuries to key players. But the course of the game is, ideally, determined by the differential skills of the teams and the tactics they employ.

Since the 1970s, however, verbal intimidation and verbal assaults have been introduced as another facet of on-field tactics – usually by the fielding side – to swing the balance in their favour. This deliberate programme is euphemised by the term “sledging” – a legitimization device of the most blatant kind. The term encompasses verbal repartee and wisecracks as well as belligerent epithets of disparagement. The funny wisecracks are then retailed as one justification for the whole gamut of verbal action designed to imprint imbalance in the playing conditions. Renowned cricket-writers talk of the “Thin Edge of the Sledge in a manner that gives room for readers to slide over this deliberate destruction of the principle “LEVEL PLAYING FIELD.”

To be sure, Gideon Haigh qualifies this thrust by raising questions on this score by referring to a sharp query from a school principal who wished to know how they could instil principles of sportsmanship among their players when the youngsters witnessed aggressive behaviour from leading cricketers at Test Matches. But Haigh does not call this unsportsmanlike behaviour “verbal assault” or “verbal intimidation.” His query becomes a gloss, a feint.

It is then diverted by another query raised as his concluding line. He draws attention to cultural difference in the “scope for aggression.” But this is a mere preliminary to another move: pondering the impending battles between Australia and India in an ODI series at home in Australia. He concludes by suggesting that India’s financial clout in the cricketing world makes it advisable for Aussies to rethink the issue of “good manners.” So, it the ruling utilitarian epistemology of the modern capitalist world that should dictate policy on the cricket field, not the principle of the level playing field: when one plays against these kingpin Indians one should consider moderating one’s aggression, one’s disparagement and the generation of imbalance. The English, Bangladeshis and, however, can be bashed verbally.

The ruling ideology of dog-eat-dog that directs marketing and power politics in this our world therefore enters into the justifications that sustain the practice of verbal assault within cricket field – assaults designed to engender “mental disintegration” in the words of a warrior called Waugh. As Michael Jeh has indicated, one of the simple means of eliminating such skewing of principle would be for the stump-mikes and sound systems to relay every single word uttered by our so-called “sporting heroes.” Both wisecrack and belligerent epithet will then be heard in every lounge room. The “shit” that is uttered will enter every lounge room, the foul-mouthed sportsman, will be displayed.

But, no, the esteemed TV commentary teams (ex-cricketers all) and the media moghuls who lord it over the cricket enterprise join the piss-weak ICC in maintaining the façade. Minting money demands the exclusion of any shitty smells from the pristine heart of the hearth, namely, the TV lounge-room. Our sporting heroes are left free to urinate on the game every now and then.

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Latest comments

  • 10

    Engaging in toilet humour seems to be the most recent attempt by this pandankaraya to get some acceptance as a journalist.
    Even there, his shit fails!

  • 5

    Surely, Professor, learned men of your calibre are not expected to use socially unacceptable expletives. Is frustration taking the better of you? Paddy Colman will not descend that low. Come on, set a better example to the young.


    • 1

      Sad indeed that this ageing academic has to resort to slang conjecture, and writing on a subject he has only second-hand knowledge of in order to entertain us at this seasonal time of the year. Truth to tell, I would have had more enjoyment watching a rerun of Pinocchio.

  • 6

    Writing for the sake of writing, bored with nothing else to do?

  • 0

    Sun Tzu In the Art of War says, “the general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to the assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken.”

    Sledging in Cricket is used to irritate the batsman to make him lose his temper and try to assault the bowler. Often the result is disastrous to the batsman. Sledging comes naturally to the descendants of convicts and those who grow up in such an environment. It is responsible for the domination of Cricket by the Australians. It is up to the representatives of other nations in ICC to ensure that punitive action is taken by the umpires to minimize sledging and once more make the spirit of Cricket dominant in Cricket.

  • 4

    This fellow is another joker in the Pakse regime who comes out and spews rubbish. I still remember this clown, criticizing an author based on speculations sometime ago with another fool with a PhD (God knows what he did for his thesis) from Point Pedro. Hey Roberts, don’t you have anything else to do?

  • 2


  • 2

    Michael Roberts,being an expert on both cricket and warfare, should now write another piece entitled “War as Cricket” describing the style of warfare practised by Sri Lankan army!

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