Psychological Warfare

Sport On the Parkwith Tom Brown Why is it that each year, our summer of cricket goes hand in hand with a journalistic frenzy on professional sledging? As a culture, most of us are raised in diverse tough multicultural communities and Inherently Australians do not to take people too seriously. Typically, we are very friendly nation and like to have a joke with each both on and off the paddock. We are also a culture that strives to compete and show the world that Australians work hard, play hard and compete to win. I certainly don’t want to justify inappropriate communication and verbal abuse between each other or across nations, however I will stand behind our proud sporting culture that promotes on-field communications and having a chat with your opponent on the sporting field, sharing banter and stirring the pot. Perhaps we should define the term Sledging before we progress this commentary. The Oxford Dictionary defines sledging as, “taunting or teasing remark made to an opposing player in order to disturb their concentration.” In a recently published article by Shane Warne (Brisbane Courier Mail, 10th December 2017), Warne wrote, “For mine the art of sledging is all about unsettling your opponent to the point where they lose concentration and focus. It’s about being subtly clever and humorous rather than loud and bravado. It’s that little word here and there when your opposition least expects it.” We know that there can be a fine line between making a general comment to an opposing player and using language that fulfils that definition of racism and personal verbal abuse.In the same article above, Shane Warne recalls the time when a notable South African Player had made a public statement about the fact that he had engaged a Sports Psychologist to assist in strengthening his mental attitude when competing against an opposition. Shane Warne already had ‘the wood’ on this batsman so when the batsman arrived at the crease, Warne was keen to drop a ‘one liner’ as he walked past the batsman. The story goes that Shane Warne said to the batsman, “what colour was the couch?” The reply to this comment was short, sharp and aggressive. To Warne’s delight, the batman only lasted 3 balls and was on his way back to the dressing room. In a quote taken from an on-line article ( written by Fiona Goldfinch, dated 26th November,2017 on the topic of Sports Stress, the Australian Cricket Team Psychologist, Dr Michael Lloyd said, “He understands the use of on-field sledging, calling it an ‘effective performance tool’ but warned that social media had the potential to significantly contribute to stress for elite cricketers.”“Sledging is something that goes on on-field and is very much about the performance aspect of the game,” said Dr Lloyd. “Quite often sledging is an effective tool to be able to challenge somebody regarding their performance and get the upper-hand on the field. “What we are seeing playing out at the moment is a strong and aggressive rivalry on field, which is important, but it also seems like a high degree of respect for each other as professional athletes.” In an environment where our community has been more vigilant about protecting women and men both professionally and domestically from mental abuse and violence, it is probably timely to remind each other that ‘communication is an art’ and ‘knowledge is a privilege’ so we should teach our children to respect the art of communication and use the knowledge wisely.