FORMER West Indies wicket-keeper Deryck Murray yesterday reminded cricketers that there are unwritten rules to sledging. Murray, speaking to Newsday after Windies pacer Shannon Gabriel was charged by the ICC for using a homophobic language to an England batsman, condemned sledging through personal attacks concerning religion, race, family and sexuality.
On Monday, a stump microphone caught an interaction on the third day of the third Test between Gabriel and England batsmen Joe Root and Joe Denly. Root told Gabriel, “Don’t use it as an insult. There’s nothing wrong with being gay.”
Although the microphone did not catch Gabriel’s comments which led to Root’s response, it is understood the umpires spoke to Gabriel about them at the time.
Murray, a West Indies wicket-keeper from 1963 to 1980, said sledging has been taking place in cricket for years but it was not as offensive.
“There has always been some ‘small talk’ among players and opponents when one player tells the other, ‘You can’t bat, you can’t bowl’ – a little small talk like that. There is nothing to it, everybody hugs and fraternises after a game.”
Murray says players are now going overboard with their disparaging comments toward the opposition.
He said, “However in recent times it seems that it has got to the point where sledging has become an intrinsic weapon...because it is used to upset somebody and to antagonise. There are things said that in normal conversation are against the law – when people start talking race, gender (and so on). It is unsavoury and also the body language that goes with it is not conducive to the spirit of any sport. It is not something you want young people to see and try to emulate...Anything that could be done to minimise it I would welcome.”
He added, “When you start talking about somebody’s race or you make references about their family background, that is totally unsportsmanlike and there is no room for that in the game. When it becomes very personal and vindictive it should be wiped out of the game.”
The 75 year old cricket legend said the International Cricket Council should put more measures in place to stop sledging.
He said, “(They should) take it more seriously because it is really an unsavoury part of the game and it does nothing to add to spectator value.”
Murray said although the West Indies were dominant when he played, they were sometimes victims of sledging.
“Not so much our team-mates (would sledge), we were on the receiving end of some. Some of it you look back on and you think it was funny, but occasionally it went beyond what is acceptable,” he said.