England and Australia may not always see eye to eye on cricket matters, but ahead of their Tri-Series meeting tomorrow James Anderson and Brad Haddin both argued against drastic measures to curb sledging.
Both players are hard-bitten veterans of the international scene, and hardly shy of a word or two in the middle, and each sought to downplay the growing concerns over on-field conduct.
Relations between India and Australia have been particularly strained of late, with repeat offender David Warner fined 50 per cent of his match fee for a run-in with Rohit Sharma last weekend.
The issue of verbal spats is increasingly becoming the game’s cause celebre, with former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe proposing a yellow and red card system and BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew chiding Australia for failing to uphold higher standards following Phillip Hughes’ tragic death.
England batsman Joe Root gave tentative backing to Crowe’s suggestion earlier this week, but Anderson was cooler on the idea, suggesting current standards are not appreciably worse than before.
“I don’t think at the moment there is any more sledging than there’s been in the history of cricket – it’s something that’s gone on for years and years,” the Lancastrian said.
“There’s a spotlight on it a little bit more, with stump mics and lots of cameras on the ground. But of course there’s a line and I think all players are aware of that.
“I’m not sure about [a card system]. At the moment if you cross that line the umpires are within their rights to give either a fine or a ban. For me, I don’t want to get fined or banned so I’m more than happy with that rather than cards.”
Anderson knows better than most about potential sanctions currently available to the ICC.
He was cleared of a serious misconduct charge last summer following an incident with Ravindra Jadeja in the Trent Bridge pavilion, averting a possible four-game ban.
For the remainder of that India series Anderson preferred to give opposing batsmen the silent treatment, but he still sees a place for a well-placed barb. “I don’t think it should disappear from the game. I think it’s quite entertaining when it’s done in the right manner,” he said.
“I think guys have got to use their heads a little bit and be a bit smart about what is said on the field, if anything is said at all.
“But you don’t want to take away the aggression from teams.”
Haddin, who could also be seen exchanging forthright opinions with Indian players during the recent Test series, was adamant neither Australia, nor Warner, would be making major alterations to their behaviour.
“We know the brand of cricket we want to play and Davey’s no different to all of us,” he said.
“We are out there to compete. The umpires are there to do their job and they will adjudicate on anything they see that’s unfit and not in the spirit of the game.
“Every Australian team I’ve played in respects the game of cricket and respects the opposition.
“We’re pretty comfortable with the way we’re playing.”
The sides meet at the Bellerive Oval tomorrow, with Australia having won both their Tri-Series games and England fresh from hammering India in Brisbane.