Gavaskar on sledging and competitive desire

Gavaskar on sledging and competitive desire

Post by Uday Raja » Mon, 10 Feb 1997 04:00:00

        Sunil Gavaskar, in a recent article in "India Today", has some
interesting comments on sledging. The article itself generally bemoans
India's attitude and lack of competitive fire. Here is an excerpt, with
the comments on sledging in the 3rd paragraph.

"       Sadly, such confidence and lack of desire to do well and win
laurels for the country and oneself is in a minority in the Indian
team. The "chalta hai" (my footnote: loosely translated to mean "it's
OK") attitude which is the norm of in all walks of Indian life is there
in the Indian team too. So players will be happy with a 40 or 70 rather
than look for a big hundred and in fielding that extra effort --- which
will save a run and lift the entire team by the very effort --- is not
seen often. Mind you, this is not new. It has been there since the time
I started playing for the country. Even then we had players in the team
more interested in the perks of being a member of the Indian squad
rather than playing well for the country.
        So when Rahul Dravid kissed the Indian crest on his helmet on
reaching his first Test century, it brought goose pimples that tingled.
Here was a young man keen to bring glory to his team and country and
prepared to take some hard knocks while doing so. When he talked back
to Klusener after the bowler had tried to stir him up, one did not
worry about his concentration but admired his gumption in not taking
things lying down.
        Our bowlers do not spar verbally with the batsmen even if they
have faced a lot of lip while they themselves were batting. When the
partnership between Cullinan and Klusener was taking root, how one
wished that one of the bowlers or close-in fielders had sledged
Klusener if only to show that India can dish it out as well.
Unfortunately, most of them are still in awe of the foreigner and
don't mind being pushed around. It is this complex that stops us from
delivering the knockout punch when we have the opposition on the
ropes. The lack of a fierce desire to win comes mainly because we
would rather be nice sporting, popular guys.
        So when India had South Africa tottering with seven wickets
down, we saw some of the Indian players taking their time to get away
from the drinks trolley  at the break having a laugh with the 12th
man. This even when the light was fading fast and every minute was
vital. Indeed, the players who were laughing at the drinks trolley
were not those who had been bowling their hearts out. And remember,
it just takes one person to be lethargic on the field for it to
be infectious and spread to most of the other members on the field. "

        Now some of my own comments. I find it unusual that any
ex-player would call for more sledging. I think that Gavaskar himself
had been at the receiving end of a fair amount of sledging during
his career, with no one sledging back from the Indian side. AFAIK,
India is not a team known to sledge much. A team such has Australia,
OTOH, has had a long-standing reputation for being a sledging side.
Apparently, Gavaskar believes that RSA was responsible for some
sledging in the recent India-RSA series. He also seems to believe
that sledging is a competitive weapon, and that a side that does not
sledge is at a competitive disadvantage. The latter may well be true.
        I think that umpires and match referees should penalize
sledging to the extent possible, but I don't see them being able
to end it altogether. There are two obvious problems. Firstly, there
is the language issue. Mongia, for example, could swear at a batsman
in Marathi without the umpire understanding what he was saying (I
mention Mongia because the reverse happened to him on this newsgroup,
when someone speculated that his "Ai gah" call was swearing).
Secondly, sledging is not synonymous with swearing. Any comment that
disturbs a batsman's concentration could be called sledging.