Thursday, Jan 01, 2004
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``Where you have learnt your technique, mate! This is all what John Wright has taught you,'' Matthew Hayden taunted Rahul Dravid as the Indian vice-captain, with his trademark defiance, sought an Indian revival.
Brad Williams snarled at Sachin Tendulkar after getting him out and directed Ajit Agarkar towards the dressing room after rattling his stumps with a quick delivery.
Nathan Bracken, not to be outdone, gave a mouthful to Parthiv Patel after the little wicketkeeper had guided him through slips in succession for fours.
An Indian middle order batsman revealed that one player subjected to special sledging by the Aussies was Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly was constantly spoken to by the slip cordon and close-in fielders of the Australian team with Hayden and Gilchrist doing the maximum chattering.
The din grew louder as Dravid and Ganguly dropped anchor and put on 93 runs in the afternoon, resisting the verbal intimidatory tactics of the Australians.
Ironically, amidst all this, Indians found skipper Steve Waugh the most well-behaved of all his teammates.
Waugh even walked up to Ganguly after the Indian captain had been hit on the head by a rising delivery from Brad Williams.
``How are you Sourav, are you okay?'' Waugh had asked with genuine concern at seeing a lump form at the back of the Indian captain's head.
Waugh generally is seen as a leader who encouraged ``verbal disintegration'' of the opposition during his reign but lately has condemned it following a public outcry at Australians' poor sportsmanship on the field.
The matter came to a head on Australia's tour of the West Indies early this year when Brian Lara and Glenn McGrath stood inches apart, looking in the eye and mouthing venom.
Australians did not spare even the Indian tail-enders during the match, which they eventually went on to win by nine wickets, and Brett Lee came round the wicket to pitch a few short ones at Anil Kumble with a forward short leg and a short square leg in place.
The Indians have not filed any official complaint on the matter and Ganguly said it was not anything unusual from the Australian team on the field.
``It was not unusual,'' said Ganguly though he admitted he was the focus of special attention from the host on the penultimate day of the Test.
Former Australian captain and now national selector Allan Border termed Williams' aggression as one of a young, eager fast bowler.
``I am sure if anything was big enough, he would have been dealt with by the match referee and umpires,'' said Border.
Cricket Australia has clamped down on sledging in recent times, as it believes it brings bad image for the world's best cricketing nation.
The Australian cricket team too has been stirred into action and there is an ``internal disciplinary measure'' put in place for those who cross the limit of decent behaviour on the field.
It is unlikely there would be any action on the issue this time. However, what occurred on the field on the fourth day of the third Test was a subtle reminder that it will be some more time before Aussies forget their old habit. PTI
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