It's not cricket to talk aggressively to opponents

Australia's David Warner has been fined twice by the International Cricket Council.
Australia's David Warner has been fined twice by the International Cricket Council.PHOTO: REUTERS

CARDIFF • Much of the build-up to today's first Test of the Ashes series has focused on the issue of "sledging" or verbal abuse of opponents, which is something the International Cricket Council (ICC) is determined to eradicate.

Hard-hitting Australia opener David Warner, fined twice by the ICC in the last 18 months, is walking an especially fine line.

"I'm on my last warning (before possible suspension) from the ICC," he said last week. "These rules are being clamped down on now. If you walk towards a player, the umpires are going to fine you."

England director of cricket Andrew Strauss, a former Ashes-winning captain, stressed there was more to being competitive than "mouthing off" at the opposition.

"We can over-hype an Ashes series, which maybe puts the players under more pressure to be really aggressive," he told BBC Radio Five.

"You can be very aggressive with the way you play, you don't necessarily need to do it with the way you speak to the opposition."

For Australia captain Michael Clarke, winning an away Ashes series after three losing tours would fill a gap in his illustrious CV.

Meanwhile, for England, in their first series under new Australian coach Trevor Bayliss, the challenge is to see if the team can continue to play the aggressive brand of cricket that served them so well during their recent one-day series triumph over New Zealand.

Australia had several players who impressed during the 2013 Ashes in England, yet they still lost the series 3-0 and Strauss was clear on what both sides needed to do if they were to triumph this time.

"Win the big moments... There are times when you need to grab the game by the scruff of the neck.

"Pretty simple in theory; in practice, a bit more difficult," he said.

It is one of the truisms of Test cricket that the team with the better fast bowlers usually wins.

And Australia's left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc believes the fact that England's top order is set to contain seven southpaws could work in his favour and that of fellow "lefty" Mitchell Johnson.

"I have worked a long time for my stock delivery being at a left-hander," Starc revealed.

"The consistency is getting to where it needs to be and I am starting to see the results."

There have been suggestions that home groundsmen should prepare lifeless pitches to nullify Australia's pace threat.

However, former England great Ian Botham said: "We don't want flat wickets. If you do, we might as well send the Ashes back now because that'll play right into Australia's hands.

"This Australian team will go at you hard so I think England have got to come back hard."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

THE ASHES, 1ST TEST

Day 1: England v Australia, Singtel TV Ch123 & StarHub Ch236, 6pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2015, with the headline 'It's not cricket to talk aggressively to opponents'. Print Edition | Subscribe