‘Playing against a team captained by Ian Chappell is akin to gang warfare’- this is what legendary English captain Mike Brearley had to say about the Australian team of the 1970s, who were referred to as the ‘Ugly Australians’ and rightly so. However, the precedent set by that team and the Australian teams of later years led to far more aggressive behaviour from other teams as well. After all, a verbal onslaught consisting of sick abuse won’t be tolerated for too long will it? Hence it is not a surprise that over the years cricket fans have witnessed plenty of ugly verbal spats on the field and this article looks at 10 of the ugliest ones.
1 Gambhir vs Afridi
This was one spat that is still talked about by cricket fans on both sides of the border due to the intense abusive slangy match that went on between the Indian batsman and the Pakistani all rounder during a game. Gambhir was under the impression that Afridi was trying to deliberately block his way when he was trying to take a run and hence barged into him while taking a run. Once Afridi asked him about him he tore into him with the choices of Hindi gaalis and Afridi did the same. Eventually the umpire had to intervene to stop the fracas.
2 Harbhajan vs Andrew Symonds
One of the biggest controversies in modern cricket was sparked by the verbal confrontation between Harbhajan Singh and Aussie all rounder Andrew Symonds during the Sydney Test in 2008. The players sledged each other while the Indian team were batting and according to Symonds, the Indian bowler racially abused him by calling him a monkey which led to a judicial review into the matter. Harbhajan was acquitted of all charged after a trial.
3 Kieron Pollard vs Mitchell Starc
This one happened in the IPL in 2014 in a game between the Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore when the West Indian all rounder stopped short of throwing his bat at Mitchell Starc. Pollard had pulled out of his stance due to some issue but Starc bowled the delivery nonetheless and the worst part of the delivery was that he bowled it at Pollard who was in no position to play the ball. What followed was one of the ugliest scenes ever seen on a cricket field.
4 Curtly Ambrose vs Steve Waugh
Facing Curtly Ambrose at full tilt is an intimidating prospect in itself but Steve Waugh is not someone who is known to back down from a scrap and so when Ambrose kept staring at him after each delivery, he told him, ‘what the **** are you staring at?’. All hell broke loose as Ambrose approached Waugh menacingly in order to have a swing but was eventually restrained by his captain Richie Richardson but Steve Waugh did not flinch one bit. Years later he was to say that he was genuinely worried that Ambrose would have a swing at his face.
5 Gautam Gambhir vs Karman Akmal
India v Pakistan games are highly competitive affairs and a lot is usually said on the field by the players to each other but this incident had nothing to do with sledging. Gambhir missed a delivery from Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal by a mile but the Pakistan keeper Kamran Akmal appealed vociferously for a catch behind. Once the over was finished and the umpires called for drinks Gambhir walked straight up to Akmal menacingly and confronted him about the appeal. It was an ugly spat and could have turned uglier had M S Dhoni, the player at the other end not pulled Gambhir away.
6 Harbhajan Singh vs Shoaib Akhtar
In the same game in which Gautam Gambhir clashed with Kamran Akmal, Indian bowler Harbhajan Singh had an abusive slug-fest with Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar. In a closely contested game of fine margins Harbhajan had lifted Akhtar over long on for a six and post that the bowler seemed to lose his cool. He bowled a barrage of short pitched stuff and gave Harbhajan an earful. However, Harbhajan is not known to be one to back down and gave it back as good as he got. Needless to say, the whole conversation took place in chaste Punjabi.
7 Dennis Lillee vs Javed Miandad
This one is well and truly a blast from the past in which Aussie legend Dennis Lillee kicked Javed Miandad following an altercation. In a Test match during Pakistan’s tour of Australia, Lillee was continually trying to stand in Javed’s way as he was trying to complete quick singles and after a while Javed pushed Lillee to complete the run. Lillee immediately kicked him but Javed was not weakling and he would have hit Lillee with his bat had the umpire not come between the two players. An uglier scene has not been seen yet.
8 Ishant Sharma vs Kamran Akmal
Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma is not someone who is known for giving the batsmen a lot of lip but that changed one evening in a T20 game against Pakistan in which he went hammer and tongs at Pakistani wicket keeper- batsman Kamran Akmal. It was a closely contested game and tempers were running high when the two clashed. The pair went for each other at the middle of the pitch and Ishant with his height bore down on Akmal as he abused him to his heart’s content with Akmal doing the same looking up. The pair had to be separated by the umpires.
9 Gautam Gambhir vs Shane Watson
Well, Gautam Gambhir seems to be the most volatile character in the Indian team considering the number of times his name has cropped up in this list and in this particular instance he actually hit Aussie all rounder Shane Watson with his elbow while completing a run in order to prove a point. It happened during the Delhi Test in the 2008 series and after Watson had sledged Gambhir all morning he decided to take matters into his own hands and so while completing a second run he stuck out his left elbow to hit Watson in his midriff. He was reprimanded by the match referee afterwards.
10 Harbhajan Singh vs Ricky Ponting
It happened 16 years ago in warm Sharjah during the game made famous by Sachin Tendulkar’s epic century but the face-off between the then 19 year old Harbhajan and Ponting is a part of cricketing folklore. After he had hit Bhajji for plenty of fours and sixes he was foxes by the spinner to be stumped when he went for another one. Harbhajan gave him a send off but Ponting being Ponting did not back down and confronted the spinner at the middle of the pitch to give him an earful. No doubt the incident heralded a new era of on field spats.
By Soham Sammadar