Gower’s remarks came ahead of the first of several meetings between the old rivals this English season, starting with Saturday’s Champions Trophy clash at Edgbaston, that include five Tests, two Twenty20 and five more ODIs.
Asked if England’s cricket relationship with Australia represented a clash of cultures, Gower told the Radio Times magazine: “I’m tempted to say, how can you have a clash of cultures when you’re playing against a country with no culture? That would almost be sledging.
“Sledging” — verbally trying to intimidate opponents — is something where Australia have led the rest of the world, with former Australia captain Stephen Waugh elevating it to the status of “mental disintegration”.
But Gower said that Australian crowds, as well as players, were adept at dishing out verbal abuse.
“If you’re on the boundary you have to be very, very thick-skinned, because the Aussie crowd will try you with absolutely anything,” he said.
“It’s the same with sledging on the field. There’s a certain animal mentality, and if they sense a bit of weakness, they’ll try it on more. The great thing is just to smile, because the smile completely confuses them. But the best way to keep an Australian bowler quiet is simply to make runs,” added Gower.
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