The Sledge, The Niggle and Gamesmanship

With fairly definite views regarding The Sledge, The Niggle and Gamesmanship in general, it’s safe to assume Hughesy will be scanning the press reports over the next few days.

What follows is an exercise in gathering content that might be relevant at some point down the track, a compendium rather than a commentary, though one can’t help commentating from time to time.

The thrice daily news bulletin from the ABC that arrived this morning pointed me towards The Ashes: Chris Rogers comes to David Warner's defence over Jonathan Trott criticism. You might find a statement like no-one in the Australian team knew about Trott's condition, and the remarks were not meant to be hurtful a trifle difficult to swallow, but that’s what he apparently said. We’re obviously looking for short term tactical advantage, not long term psychological damage. There’s also a comment from Peter Siddle along the lines of Anderson brought Clarke's sledge/threat on himself, which I’m inclined to see as a reminder that all this stuff is a two way street.

Don’t, in other words, get all holier than thou if you’re inclined to dish it up yourself.

THere’s a comment along those lines in The Ashes: James Anderson threatened George Bailey before Clarke sledge, says Shane Warne along with the  comment from a tight-lipped Bailey that Anderson must have been just a bit upset about the way the game was going, which also suggests that whatever remarks George was chirping from under the lid were hitting home.

Turning the attention to the regular items in my Safari Top Sites, I headed over to the Cricket page on ABC Grandstand for The Ashes: Kim Hughes labels David Warner comments about Jonathan Trott as 'disgraceful', where Hughes admits The Sledge is part and parcel of the game. I don't know why. They say it is, it shouldn't be. But you don't do it off the field. That's just deplorable and unacceptable in any field of endeavour.

Point taken, but see previous comments about those without sin, and consider Hughesy’s long-standing belief that what transpires on the field shouldn’t be affected by organised denigration from the other side of the boundary.

The question of who fills the vacancy created at Three for England has Mike Atherton advocating Joe Root because he played Mitchell Johnson well, ... looked compact, ... got a nice stride into the ball and also dealt with all of the verbals (Here).

Nasser Hussain and Ian Chappell tend to favour Bell, and candidates to fill the vacancy caused by either of them moving up the order are Jonny Bairstow, unless Zimbabwean-born Gary Ballance or all-rounder Ben Stokes, who, according to Atherton gives the option of bringing Monty Panesar in and playing a second spinner, with Stokes as the third seamer if the pitch looks as flat as has been suggested.

Updates in the ICC Rankings are covered in The Ashes: Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Lyon in ICC top 20 bowlers, Michael Clarke number four batsman. Johnson is now ranked 19th with the ball and 78th with the bat, Lyon 18th with the ball and Clarke up to 4th in the batting. In other moves Cook moves into 10th, Warner to 17th and Haddin 42nd with the bat, Broad and Tremlett are now 7th and 32nd with the ball).

Full rankings are here, where one notes Broad rates 4th in the All-Rounders list with Watson and Johnson 7th and 8th respectively.

Further down the page The Ashes: Jonathan Trott receives support from England players past and present after leaving tour reveals Michael Vaughanexpressed regret for questioning Trott's performances in the media.

As the content increasingly disappears behind the Murdoch paywall I’ve given The Australian the flick, moving, instead to The Guardian, where, this morning Australia have no intention of changing their aggressive approach to the Ashes. Click there and you’ll find the main points are Darren Lehmann sees no reason to be less vocal and his county side Warwickshire always knew of Jonathan Trott's illness.

I may have cause to refer back to Ashes: England must learn the lessons they started studying a long time ago: Andy Flower and his team have been here before. It's not that England's chances are dead, just that the contest is alive, which is why I’ve stuck it in here.

Glenn McGrath’s Trott was right to go home, an Ashes tour is no place to sort out problems is another one I may well be referring back to on the basis of Pigeon’s suggestion that West Indian comments of Let's kill him, man. Let's kill him as he walked in to bat weren’t too far removed from Clarke’s go at Anderson.

McGrath makes the most important point when he writes:

But there is a line – it's fine as long as it doesn't get too personal. When I played, an opposition bowler (or batsman for that matter) could call me any name under the sun, I had no issue. But if they started to bring in family members, or personal issues, then that's different. That is why I thought the treatment Mitchell Johnson got on the tour of England in 2009 was a bit rough, when you start to bring in what is happening on a personal front.


Root most likely solution for No. 3
 while Australia to conserve pace resources focusses on the three day turn around between Adelaide and Perth, raises the suggestion Faulkner may come in for Bailey in Adelaide, and suggests Coulter-Nile, Bollinger, Sayers and Cutting as possible replacements should one of the current line up break down.

There’s nothing particularly new in Lehmann rejects sledging summit but

Fun turns to fear for Jonathan Trott
 offers a detailed and thoughtful analysis of the Trott issue that prompts Hughesy to make two points.

The first is that while Australia might not have known of the mental issues that prompted Trott’s return home they would have been aware of issues that seem to verge on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The second is, of course, to emphasise that players do actually need a break from time to time.

Time for Trott to seek new truths
 quotes an unnamed England player whoseidentity will remain secret because his assessment went to the heart of England's approach. "It can feel as if there is no escape," he said. "It as if everything you do is being assessed, as if every little thing you do is being marked and analysed and stored away. If you are not careful, it can wear you down. It's incredibly difficult to come to terms with it."

That comment, mind you, is about the England approach to the game. The opposition, of course, will be operating in the same territory as they set out looking for things that can be exploited.

Cognitive behaviour consultant Brett Morrissey, who has worked with Michael Yardy who left England's 2011 World Cup campaign is interviewed for The expert view - Big strides have been made and 'You just can't take any more' - Trescothick cites another high profile casualty.

There’s some interesting reading there to keep you going while you wait for the two squads to wend their way to Adelaide.

© Ian L Hughes 2021