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Sledging censorship such a shame

There are a few things that set the Ashes apart from any other test series, but one of the hallmarks is undoubtedly sledging - the verbals that have been uttered on the field during this great sporting contest since the 1970's. It was the Australians that invented this art, primarily to get under the skin of the English, making it part of the Ashes [] furniture.

What a shock then that Cricket Australia have apparently written to each member of the Aussie touring party telling them to pack all of that in. Psychology is one of the key elements in test match cricket and sledging has been a prime example of this. It has been interesting over the years to see which England [] teams, as well as individuals, have been able to hack the verbal onslaught and which haven't. The mental side to this form of the game is one of the main reasons why test cricket probably won't fall victim to the cloying influence of 20/20.

There have been countless reminiscences in commentary boxes, tv studios, at after dinner speeches and down the pub, over the best examples of the art of sledging, along with countless books devoted to the subject. Why? Because risable though it might sometimes appear, it adds another dimension to the game. It is one of the key ingredients that go into making it so fascinating, so to take it away would be criminal. If nothing else, it can be highly amusing. On the subject of the 2005 series, it did seem a little too friendly. I'm all for a bit of sportsmanship, but to win on the field you need to be ruthless and single-minded, something the Australians have always been noted for.

Perhaps that was the beginning and maybe Australia is becoming as PC as Britain. Or perhaps Cricket Australia are frightened that, now that their boys are not the all-conquering invincibles they once were, any retorts would further dent their already fragile confidence. Either way, they don't seem to realise that sledging was partly responsible for the resurgence of the Australian national side and also for keeping them at the top of the tree once they were there.

So while the Australians have always saved their best sledging for the Poms over the years, there is no doubt that it has always added to the unique mood and atmosphere that comes with an Ashes series, which means the latter would be all the poorer without that little bit of needle whichever side you're on. To quote Sir Ian Botham from a current ad campaign: 'It's been going on for a long, long time and we still hate them - it's wonderful'.

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