London: James Anderson has called on both sides to ditch the verbals and cut out 'sledging' during the upcoming Ashes series between England and Australia.
James Anderson. Pic/AFP
New Zealand have just completed a tour of England which, although it ended in a 56-run Twenty20 defeat at Old Trafford on Tuesday, the Black Caps won praise both for the quality of their cricket and the way in which they conducted themselves on the field. Significantly, they showed it was possible to play aggressive cricket without resorting to 'sledging' -- verbal abuse of opposition players -- and their approach had the knock-on effect of improving England's behaviour as well.
But doubts remain about whether the Ashes can be played in the same spirit, particularly if England feel obliged to match an Australia side who are never shy of a few words to their opponents. "I hope it's played in the same nature as the New Zealand series, that was a really positive series and the nature of both sides' cricket was helped by the spirit the game was played in," England paceman Anderson told Sky Sports News on Wednesday.
"(But) there's a different relationship between the two teams, the Ashes is a huge series for both sets of players." "If there is needle, it's something I thought I thrived on or needed in the past but having played in the last few months, I think it's important we get the balance right of playing in the right spirit, but also having that competitive edge to win a game of cricket for your country."
But, in a sign of how tricky it is to agree on what is or isn't acceptable, Australia's Shaun Marsh, speaking ahead of the first Ashes Test against England in Cardiff on July 8, said Monday: "It is an Ashes series and I am sure there will be sledging from both teams, but I am also sure it will be in the spirit of the game."
Things were widely deemed to have got out of hand between the two teams during the last Ashes campaign, which saw Australia whitewash England 5-0 on home soil in 2013/14. The first Test in Brisbane saw Australia captain Michael Clarke tell England tailender Anderson to "get ready for a broken fucking arm". Clarke later apologised for the tone of his comments and on Sunday promised the upcoming Ashes would be played in the "right spirit".
Anderson himself has been known to exchange words with opposition batsmen and last year's Trent Bridge Test saw him charged for his part in an alleged altercation with India's Ravindra Jadeja, although the case was later thrown out. Someone else who could be on the receiving end of a few taunts is in-form England batsman Joe Root.
The 24-year-old Yorkshireman, now a mainstay of the England side in all three formats, is desperate to atone for the disappointment of a lacklustre 2013/14 Ashes tour which saw him dropped foe the first time in his Test career. However, since his recall during the last English season, Root has scored 1,318 Test runs at 83.27, while his match-winning 78 in Tuesday's Twenty20 was his latest impressive effort in white-ball cricket.
"I feel quite confident at the crease at the minute," he said. "I'd like to be a bit more consistent -- I'm either getting a big score or nothing at the minute. "Obviously I want to get big scores all the time, I'm greedy, but that's the nature of being a batter.
"It's really exciting that the Ashes is not far away now and we can get out there and hopefully put on a show again. "It's obviously going to be massive for everyone involved. It's a very exciting time for English cricket and I'm sure everyone has seen the way we've played over this summer in all three formats will be excited."
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