Although often referred to as ‘the gentlemen’s game’, things often get quite heated on the pitch as the pressure intensifies and desire to win overcomes all sense of camaraderie. It’s during these moments that words are often exchanged, some witty, some funny and others just downright nasty. As spectators, we aren’t privy to most of these cutting remarks but some are just so timeless they make their way past the boundary and become legendary.
Below is a list of the top 10 best cricket chirps, or sledgings, of all time.
1. Steve Waugh to Herschelle Gibbs
Without doubt one of the most well-known of all cricketing chirps emanated from the Cricket World Cup in England, 1999. South Africa – always chasing that elusive World Cup trophy – sadly cemented their tag as ‘chokers’ when they lost a game they were already on course to win. Playing against Australia, a team on the brink of elimination, Steve Waugh was at the crease. After clipping the ball straight to South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs – one of the country’s top fielders – dropped the ball, quite unbelievably, when putting showmanship above performance. Waugh went on to score a hundred and won the match for Australia, who eventually went on to win the World Cup. However, just after Gibbs’ drop, Waugh prophetically said ‘How does it feel to have dropped the World Cup?’
2. Ian Healy to Arjuna Ranatunga
When times get tough, cricketers will even resort to ‘fat jokes’ to rattle their opponents. In a match between Australia and Sri Lanka, the Australians were getting increasingly frustrated at their inability get Arjuna Ranatunga, the then captain of Sri Lanka, out. Ranatunga happened to be on the large side so, after trying every cricketing tactic in a desperate attempt to budge the man, Australian wicketkeeper, Ian Healy, chirped: “Put a Mars Bar on a good length and that should do it.”
3. Daryll Cullinan to Shane Warne
South Africa is also not above using weight-related humour to unhinge opponents when necessary. South African batsman, Daryll Cullinan, was often on the receiving end of legendary Australian leg spin bowler, Shane Warne. The pair hadn’t come up against each other in some time so when the reunion eventually took place and Cullinan walked out to bat, Shane Warne couldn’t resist making a remark.
“I’ve been waiting two years for another chance at you,” he commented, to which Cullinan replied: “Looks like you spent it eating…”
4. Viv Richards to Greg Thomas
During a county cricket game in England, Greg Thomas was bowling to arguably the greatest all-rounder of all time, West Indian cricketer, Viv Richards. Thomas was bowling fast and somehow beating Richards’ bat. Riding this wave of success, Thomas quipped: “It’s red, it’s round. Now hit it!”.
Not missing a beat, Richards took this sound advice and hit the next ball out of the ground.
Richards promptly retorted: “You know what it looks like, now go and get it.”
5. Merv Hughes to Graham Gooch
A dominating character in cricket during the 1980s, Australian fast bowler, Merv Hughes, is well-known for a number of his humorous comments which feature in this blog.
The moustachioed Merv was bowling a fast spell and appeared to be on top of England’s record run-scorer Graham Gooch, who seemed to be struggling to connect bat with ball. Hughes continued on the upward trend, enquiring of Gooch: “Would you like me to bowl a piano and see if you can play that?”
6. Robin Smith to Merv Hughes
During the 1989 Ashes series, ‘Big’ Merv Hughes was giving English batsman, Robin Smith, a hard time. After playing and missing one of Hughes’ deliveries, he snapped at Smith: “You can’t f***ing bat!”
With that, Smith proceeded to hit the next ball to the fence for four runs, after which he responded to Hughes: “Hey Merv! We make a good pair. I can’t f***ing bat and you can’t f***ing bowl!”
7. Merv Hughes to Hansie Cronje
It seems toilet humour is also a part of the cricketing sledging tradition. Before his infamous fall from grace, South African batsman and captain, Hansie Cronje, was facing Merv Hughes during one of Australia’s tour games to the country. It was an especially flat wicket and Cronje was hitting fours and sixes in abundance. After another impressive boundary, Hughes headed down the pitch, stood next to Cronje and let out a fart, commenting: “Try hitting that for six.” Apparently play could only resume after five minutes once the laughter had died down.
8. Merv Hughes to Javed Miandad
Generally the chirper and not the chirped, Hughes didn’t take kindly to being referred to as a ‘fat bus conductor’ by Pakistani batsman, Javed Miandad during the 1991 Adelaide Test. Hughes and Miandad almost came to blows after comment but Hughes managed to have the final say a few balls later when he got Miandad out. As the batsman walked past, Hughes called out: “Tickets, please!”
9. James Ormond to Mark Waugh
The Ashes series is a hotly contested one prompting a number of on-field zingers. During one incident, Australian all-rounder Mark Waugh, brother to the legendary Steve Waugh, took it upon himself to insult English batsman, James Ormond. As Ormond walked out to bat, Waugh commented: “F*ck me, look who it is. Mate, what are you doing out here? There’s no way you’re good enough to play for England.” To which Ormond wittingly responded: “Maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my family.”
10. Malcolm Marshall to David Boon
Two legends of the game, West Indian bowler, Malcolm Marshall, was showing some class against Australian batsman, David ‘Boonie’ Boon who was having a bit of trouble against the fast bowler and had played and missed the ball a few times. Marshall asked of Boon: “Now David, are you going to get out or am I going to have to come around the wicket and kill you?”