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Cricket: NEW SLEDGING CRACKDOWN SPARKS WAUGH OF WORDS.

KING of the sledgers Steve Waugh last night branded a plan to impose five-run penalties on fielders who bad-mouth a batsman 'ridiculous'.

Australian captain Waugh, who has spent the last 14 years getting under England's skin, claimed that 'sledging' batsmen was merely an exercise in 'mental disintegration' instead of bad sportsmanship.

But from October 1, world governing body ICC will hand umpires the power to award five extra runs against the fielding side for excessive "chirping". Waugh doesn't like the idea one bit - arguably because it might cramp his style.

He whined: "I don't think we sledge - I would prefer to call it mental disintegration. It's all part of the game. Test cricket is about not only testing your skill but testing your mind powers in certain situations and how you handle the pressure."

But no wonder Waugh is upset: the ICC have outlawed an Aussie invention just ahead of next summer's Ashes series in England. From former skipper Ian Chappell to Merv Hughes, the Pom-bashing menace with that unlicensed moustache, the Australians have always been the world's greatest - or worst - sledgers.

Retired Test umpire Dickie Bird reprimanded Hughes for barking at Graeme Hick from point-blank range during the 1993 Ashes and told him: "Please leave Mr Hick alone - he's done nothing to hurt you."

Only a handful of Englishmen even come near the Aussies on cricket's sledgometer, although Dominic Cork loves to get up the opposition's noses with his theatrical appeals.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Walters, Mike
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 25, 2000
Words:242
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