Are you an intelligent effective sledger or simply an abusive unoriginal fool?
We have all come across the person who states the obvious facts about the batsman’s weight, equipment or even their hair style.
Sometimes it’s quite funny. Especially the first time you hear the classic line as the overweight batter walks in, “Watch for the quick singles here.”
But by crossing the line of personal abuse the fielder is wasting his time.
He has strayed into a territory that the batsman just disregards as background noise; as relevant to his innings or the game situation as the birds singing or the cars driving past.
This is because the key to effective sledging is to get into the batsman’s head, not make your team-mates giggle quietly.
Make his brain focus on something other than the next ball he is about to face because sledging is more about what you don’t say.
Kumar Sangakarra recently said the best sledge he ever received was from Nasser Hussain who simply kept calling him “cymbals” whilst he was batting.
Many a cricketer would have heard this term, a reference aimed at a wicket-keepers unorthodox way of taking the ball.
But Hussain’s decision to use this term whilst Sangakarra was batting rather than keeping was the key to this sledge: it made Sangakarra think about something else close to him rather than his batting.
Making a batsman doubt their ability to bat is one thing, but making them doubt their other discipline outside their current situation is genius.
Paul Nixon is the best sledger to ever play for England, and whilst keeping wicket behind Ricky Ponting (who was in great form at the time) in 2007 he produced a conscious display of this tactic.
Nixon admitted he could have not competed with Ponting on a technical level of batting and knew any attempt to sledge him about his batting would be a waste of an opportunity.
Instead he tried to take Ponting out of the present and into the future.
Nixon knew that his best way to disrupt Ponting’s innings was to push his focus away from his current innings.
He went down the line of questioning Ponting about his team for next week’s first Test.
Did he know how many bowlers he was going to take? Was the wicket expected to turn? What was the tea like; anything to remove him from the present.
So next time you feel the need to implement a mental battle with a batsman, think about your angle before you start the chat.
Are you going to try to cause doubt, remove them from the present or try to subtly add pressure?
One well directed comment does more damage than 10 fielders constantly chatting rubbish.
by David Hinchclife, PitchVision Academy
© 2012 miSport Ltd