In cricket, sledging is often a deliberate tool for players to unsettle their opponents. Harsh words, some off the cuff remarks are used to mentally disintegrate the mind of the opposing team. (World T20: Darren Sammy’s West Indies Offered Apology by Mark Nicholas For “Short of Brains” Comment)
On some occasions, sledging helps a team gain the initiative. The Australian cricket team has mastered the art of sledging. However, there are times when sledging can be counter-productive. (Darren Sammy Turns Emotional, Lashes Critics After West Indies Clinch World T20)
In the wake of Shane Warne’s recent outburst against Marlon Samuels – the Aussie legend termed his dismissal in the semi-final against India as ‘poor — the Caribbean batsman responded in style by smashing an unbeaten 85 to help West Indies defeat England by four wickets for their second World T20 crown. Warne’s words had motivated Samuels and he was determined to win the title for the team.
The West Indies, in fact, have been masters of turning the tables on their opposition when they have been sledged. Prior to the Warne-Samuels clash, the West Indies have used digs and barbs to motivate themselves to script some memorable moments.
1 “I intend to make them Grovel” (August 1976)
This sledge was described by Viv Richards, who was captain of the 1976 team to England, as “Greatest motivating speech an England captain could have given to any West Indian team.”
Before the start of the match, England captain Tony Greig said, “If they’re down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of a few others, to make them grovel.” Coming from Greig, a white South African, the statement served to fire the West Indies up.
After draws in the first two Tests, West Indies decimated England in the remaining three Tests to win the series 3-0. In the final Test at The Oval, Michael Holding’s 14 wickets gave them a 203-run victory. In the midst of all the carnage, Greig sunk to his knees and groveled to the crowd.
2 “Just ask your Wife” (May 2003)
Ramnaresh Sarwan’s spectacular sledge to Glenn McGrath in the Antigua Test of 2004 changed the whole course of the match. During the 2003 Antigua Test, West Indies were in pursuit of a record 418 to avoid a 4-0 whitewash. At 236/5, it seemed it would be a lost cause and in that period, Glenn McGrath decided to indulge in some sledging. He asked Sarwan, “What does Brian Lara’s **** taste like?” Sarwan responded, “I don’t know, ask your wife.”
McGrath’s wife, Jane, was ill with cancer at that time and the Australian quick lost his composure. He proceeded to abuse Sarwan and also pointed his finger in an intimidating manner. The showdown resulted in Australia cracking under pressure. Sarwan went on to score 105, his second Test century at that time and West Indies chased down the record total with three wickets remaining to create history.
3 “I don’t Particularly Like Them” (March 2014)
Ahead of Australia’s game against the West Indies in the 2014 World Twenty20 in Dhaka, James Faulkner was asked a question about the West Indies. He responded by saying, “I don’t particularly like them. Nobody in particular. There are a few players I would like to knock over and more importantly I’d like to beat them. I’m looking forward to it.”
Faulkner’s jibe served to galvanise the West Indies, who had lost to India earlier. Australia batted first and notched up 178/8 and West Indies were boosted by a 35-ball 53 from Gayle. However, Australia struck back with quick wickets and it looked like they West Indies would fall short of the target. In the final over, they needed 12 runs and Faulkner was going to bowl it. After two dot balls, Darren Sammy smashed two sixes to set off delirious celebrations in the West Indies camp.
After the match, Sammy remarked, “You can talk all you want but it is the action that matters. We fought for it. Faulkner will not like us anymore.”
4 “West Indies Short of Brains” (April 2015)
Mark Nicholas, a famous commentator-cum-journalist, had written in a column that West Indies are “short of brains”. This comment angered skipper Sammy who said, “How could you describe people with no brains? Even animals have brains. We’re not an object, and for me, that comment really set us off. You have seen me talking about it.”
This comment motivated the West Indies in the final against England. In their pusuit of 156, they lost three wickets but they never lost focus. Samuels’ 85 not out and Carlos Brathwaite’s four sixes in the last over bowled by Ben Stokes sealed a dramatic win for the West Indies. Following the win, Nicholas apologised to the West Indies team.