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The Niggle is an entirely different kettle of fish.

If you want to be nice about The Sledge you can relabel it. Call it banter, if you like. Refer to people who are prone to chirp.

The Sledge, from where I’m sitting is largely repartee, and is the sort of thing that attracts a response. A perennial favourite came from an English batsman who’d been on the receiving end of a lengthy diatribe from Mark Waugh along the lines of you’re not good enough to play Test cricket.

Maybe not, was the response, but at least I’m the best cricketer in my family.

That, I think, is a close to perfect squelch. You can’t take it any further than that. It’s the sort of thing I was thinking of when I suggested a slush fund to pay out on really good sledges. Had such a fund been operating at the time with a balance that was large enough I’d have awarded that one $500 (at least).

I wouldn’t pay out on that sort of thing to the same extent twice, and wouldn’t pay out at all on your common or garden How’s the wife and my kids? 

Or the semi-standard response similar to She’s just finished the course of injections and they’re retarded.

The Sledge, in other words, is something that can go back and forth and deliver some gems. Zen and the art of bi-directional banter, if you like.

The Niggle might be a cousin-brother, but it’s a substantially different beast. It’s meant to irritate. It might be taking things a little too far to describe it as a calculated first strike, but it’s not intended to attract a response. It’s the grain of sand that gets in the shoe that you can’t manage to remove.

Or the comment that you make in a press conference that’s intended to keep an issue simmering, which is what Stuart Broad was doing when he made the remarks that prompted the Lehmann response.

Broad may or may not have been the English player who got under several Indian batsmen’s skin with comments like I drive an Audi. What sort of car do you drive?

At the time this was cited as a particularly brainless form of sledge, but it’s actually a rather straightforward piece of Niggle.

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 © Ian Hughes 2014