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Aussies resorted to sledging on day 4 of Test

By Ashish Shukla
December 31, 2003 13:48 IST
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The Indian resistance on the fourth day of the third cricket Test in Melbourne was so frustrating for the Australians that they resorted to sledging to unsettle the batsmen at the crease.

"Where you have learnt your technique, mate! This is all what John Wright has taught you," Matthew Hayden taunted Rahul Dravid, as the Indian vice-captain, with his trademark defiance, attempted an Indian revival.

Brad Williams snarled at Sachin Tendulkar after getting him out and directed Ajit Agarkar towards the dressing room after rattling his stumps with a quick delivery.

Nathan Bracken, not to be outdone, gave a mouthful to Parthiv Patel after the little wicket-keeper had guided him through the slips for successive fours.

An Indian middle order batsman revealed that one player subjected to special sledging by the Aussies was captain Sourav Ganguly, who was constantly taunted by the Australian slip cordon and close-in fielders, with Hayden and Adam Gilchrist chattering the most.

The din around the wicket grew louder as Dravid and Ganguly dropped anchor and put on 93 runs in the afternoon. Ironically, amidst all of it, the Indians found skipper Steve Waugh the most well-behaved.

Waugh even walked up to Ganguly after the Indian captain had been hit on the head by a rising delivery from Brad Williams.

"How are you Sourav, are you okay?" Waugh asked with genuine concern on seeing a lump develop at the back of the Indian captain's head.

Waugh is generally seen as a leader who encouraged "verbal disintegration" of the opposition during his reign but, of late, he is known to condemn it following public outcry at the team's poor sportsmanship on the field.

The matter came to a head on Australia's tour of the West Indies early this year, when Ramnaresh Sarwan and Glenn McGrath stood inches apart, looking each other in the eye and mouthing venom.

The Australians did not spare even the Indian tailenders during the third Test, which they eventually went on to win by nine wickets.

Brett Lee came round the wicket and pitched a few short ones at Anil Kumble, with a forward short leg and a short square leg in place.

The Indian team management has not filed any official complaint on the matter and Ganguly said it was "nothing unusual" though he admitted being the focus of special attention from the hosts in the edge-of-the-seat contest on the penultimate day of the Test.

Former Australia captain and now national selector Allan Border termed Williams's aggression as one of a young, eager fast bowler.

"I am sure if anything was big enough, he would have been dealt with by the match referee and umpires," said Border.

Cricket Australia has clamped down on sledging as it believes it earns a bad image for the world's best cricketing nation.

The Australian cricket team too has been stirred into action and there is an "internal disciplinary measure" put in place for those who cross the limit of decent behaviour on the field.

It is unlikely there would be any action on the issue this time. However, what occurred on the field on the fourth day of the third Test was a subtle reminder that it will be some more time before the Aussies forget their old habit.

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Ashish Shukla
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