In & Out: Therein lies the rub

2015-02-15 15:00

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In her breakthrough 1999 single Genie in a Bottle, a then fresh-faced Christina Aguilera sang: “I’m a genie in a bottle. You gotta rub me the right way.” She goes on to suggest what the right sort of rubbing might lead to.

But what of rubbing someone up the wrong way? If we glean any wisdom from Aguilera’s foreboding instruction, it’s that no wishes will be granted from the wrong sort of hand gestures or words.

That was exactly the message from the International Cricket Council (ICC) earlier this week, leading up to the World Cup. ICC chief executive and former Proteas wicketkeeper Dave Richardson said the cricket watchdog would “crack down” on pottymouthed players during the tournament, which began on Friday.

Based on this, it would seem sledging in the gentleman’s game has spiralled so far out of control, and has become so ungentlemanly, that to set things straight the ICC is going to instil some good, old-fashioned manners. This, of course, in the same benevolent manner in which the empire bestowed the glorious game upon its territories.

I’m of the school that finds the theatrics of sledging fun. Granted, there’s a degree of decorum that needs to be observed, but really, what’s the harm in a well-timed jibe at an opposition batsman’s mum, provided he deserves it, or even one directed at his team-mate?

Like in the days of old, when England fast bowler Fred Trueman was edged behind, only for the ball to go between the legs of his team-mate Raman Subba Row, who was fielding at slip. At the end of the over, Row ran over to Trueman to apologise, saying: “Sorry Fred, I should’ve kept my legs closed.” To which Trueman replied: “So should your mother.” Yikes.

But “penalties will be more serious than before”, Richardson was quoted as saying, and could even lead to suspension if players persisted

in having a go. One can only imagine umpires will now be required to be on an intense

“word alert”, notebooks and

pencils in hand, for those on-field indiscretions. They’d then note them down fastidiously and get on their walkie-talkies.

And there certainly would be no time for the TV production crew to insert Jerry Springer Show-style bleeps over the words that would no doubt be hurled at Wayne Parnell and whatever hair and beard ensemble he’s opted for during the Cup. Maybe Parnyboy will prove useful for the Proteas after all, if only for his tactical role in drawing verbal fire from formidable opposition players. Unless the tactic backfires and he manages to get one of his annoyed team-mates suspended.

After the Proteas’ crushing defeat to New Zealand in a warm-up match on Wednesday, JP Duminy insisted in an interview the team wasn’t “fazed”. But while his 80 towered above his team-mates’ scores, as South Africa were bowled out for 197, some choice expletives would have been on the tip of his tongue.

Duminy is a composed chap, but if his team-mates leave him hanging in the competition, chances are he won’t be doing any of the right rubbing.

@Longbottom_69 is an armchair cricket critic. He’s old enough to know who Christina Aguilera is

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