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The recent Natural Wine Fair at Borough Market provided a wonderful opportunity, not only for a day out of the office, but also for a chance to meet up with several of our winemakers and taste their latest vintages. In particular, my first opportunity to meet Ron and Elva Laughton, who, along with their daughters Georgia and Emily, create the fabulous wines of Jasper Hill. Not only did we get an insight into the depth of feeling that Ron has for his metier, but also for the passion he has for Pink Floyd! They found themselves in the right place at the right time, and managed to get two last minute tickets for a memorable concert at the O2 area.

This reminded me of the last meeting I had with an Australian friend who was very much into his cricket (aren’t they all), when, over a few tinnies of Castlemaine XXXX (wow – that dates me! - is it still around?) the conversation gravitated to the “art” of sledging. Wikipedia describes it thus – “a term used in cricket describe the practice whereby some players seek to gain an advantage by insulting and verbally intimidating the opposing player. The purpose is to try to weaken the opponent's concentration, thereby causing him to make mistakes or underperform. It can be effective because the batsman stands within hearing range of the bowler and certain close fielders; and vice-versa. The insults may be direct or feature in conversations among fielders designed to be overheard.

cricket sledging

There is debate in the cricketing world as to whether this constitutes poor sportsmanship or good-humoured banter. Former Australian captain Steve Waugh referred to the practice as 'mental disintegration'.

Here are a few (printable!) classics – again, from a certain era, but still quite amusing:

Greg Thomas to Vivian Richards after he had played and missed at several balls in a row:  "It's red, round and weighs about five ounces, in case you were wondering." Richards hammered the next delivery out of the cricket ground and into a nearby river. Turning to the bowler, he commented: "Greg, you know what it looks like, now go and fetch it."

Rod Marsh (Australian wicket-keeper) to (England’s all-rounder) Ian Botham: "So how’s your wife and my kids?" "The wife's fine, the kids are retarded."

Shane Warne and Daryll Cullinan: As Cullinan was on his way to the wicket, Warne told him he had been waiting two years for another chance to humiliate him. "Looks like you spent it eating", Cullinan retorted.

Mark Waugh (brother of Steve Waugh) to James Ormond (English fast bowler): "There's no way you are good enough to play for England." And James’ classic reply "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best cricketer in my family."