A word in your ear, Joe 90 and a game that is full of noise.

Having been laid low for seven days or so, might be a clue there, I was watching a stream of a game which included a minor barney. Basically the bowler appeared to veer into the path of the running batsman which may or may not have impeded him as he charged towards safety of the popping crease.

It resulted in an upset batsman, a seemingly bemused bowler, a defensive captain and while the umpires, already with a difficult job and without a replay option like us watching at home, tried to unpick and calm the situation. No one is the winner in cases like this.

Actually that is nonsense because oftentimes there is a winner. Maybe the batsman is so wound up that he does something rash or the bowler, distracted by the shenanigans, loses focus or worst of all the umpires are so intent on keeping the peace that they lose their concentration.

Imagine if that was the point of it all. It got me thinking about sledging. Puritans amongst us will say it is the curse of the modern game, we will shake our heads and bemoan simpler times. Catch yourself on. W. G. Grace himself was reputed to have a good line in put downs, but while sledging is as old as the game, the term sledging is relatively new.

Ian Chappell was quoted as saying that the term originated during the Sheffield Shield in the early 60s when the swearing of a player in front of a woman, she "reacted like a sledgehammer". That may not be how sledging is currently viewed, rather words which are deliberately aimed to insult, intimidate or merely gain an advantage.

What do the Laws say, you ask. Well it's clear enough actually. Law 41.2.1 is the one we need here and this is what it says. "The umpires shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play. If an umpire considers that any action by a player, not covered in the Laws, is unfair, he/she shall call and signal Dead ball, if appropriate, as soon as it becomes clear that the call will not disadvantage the non-offending side, and report the matter to the other umpire."

There is a bit more which allows Penalty runs to be awarded in the event of a continuing situation but you get the drift, it's up to the umpires to sort it out and I have no doubt that they do, but its not as if they dont have enough on their plates without intervening in a slagging match. So while I do not condone any personal abuse which might be levelled at an opponent, there are times when it is amusing enough to just sit back and enjoy the show.

Here are a few of my favourite sledging incidents.

Number 1. Freddy Flintoff is back in the news these days due to his latest TV show but his sledging of Tino Best as he faced Ashley Giles at Lords in 2006 is legendary. Flintoff suggested that Tino should “mind the windows” as he slogged the bowler, which merely induced road rage in the batter and resulted in his being stumped. A win for the sledger.

Number 2. 2001 Ashes and Mark Waugh is distinctly unimpressed by the English seamer Jimmy Ormond’s selection and when he arrives out to bat he informs him that after due consideration Waugh didn't believe he was good enough to play for England, ok it may not have been as benign as that sounds. "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my family." was Ormond’s perfect riposte.

Number 3. Glamorgan's fast bowler Greg Thomas was getting a bit of help from the pitch in Taunton with the great Viv Richards on strike. Having beaten him a few times he decided to say his piece "Hey Viv, it's red, it's round and it's fast. Now try playing it!" Viv’s response was to hit the next ball out of the ground, turned to Thomas and said "You know what it looks like, now go and find it." Nothing particularly nasty in any of the above, only one of these three initial sledges resulted in a win for the person who started the game, the other two firmly put back in their place.

And I suppose that's the key to this issue. Keeping the chatter within the bounds of acceptability, step over that mark (and Waugh was close enough before Ormond’s reply) and the umpires might start to get interested. For most of us playing amateur, weekend sport, having the opposition throw insults at you all in the name of gamesmanship is not what you sign up for every April. So cut out the nasty stuff, try a bit of humour instead.

Likelihood if you have been around for any length of time is that you have faced a bit of a sledge. When I stepped back from kids cricket a number of years ago, the inane chatter during a game occasionally moved past the acceptable boundary and in fairness, umpires,coaches and players themselves usually nipped it in the bud, as the kids imitated what they saw on TV and in their own club. It is what kids do, so bear that in mind, please.

Actually as a youngster I was subjected to some sledging of a personal nature. Being short of stature, my lack of height was the usual one, but in fairness, I wanted to be 6 foot 2 so I was with them on this topic, which took the sting out of the jibe.

The Esso under 19 interpro competition was a great tournament and the Ulster Town side took to calling me Joe 90, after the character in the children's TV programme of the same name. Small, thick glasses and what turns out a reasonable likeness. Did it bother me? Not at all. Fact is that I never knew, I only found out when Michael Rea spilled the beans years later. Seems that not only was my eyesight dodgy but my hearing was struggling even then.

Perhaps it should be a badge of honour that Geoff Boycott likened me to a leprechaun back in 1986 but actually it merely reinforced my already poor view of the individual concerned. The most disconcerting incident was a trip to Phoenix who had just taken delivery of a new batch of South African players, who proceeded to spend most of their afternoon passing comment on the visiting batsmen. At least I assume that that is what they were doing. Not being fluent in Afrikaans, I cannot be certain but boy, that is what it felt like they were doing. And it worked, so distracted was I by the incessant intelligible chatter that I was psyched out pretty swiftly, cue more Afrikaan babble. And here is a thought. It certainly got in my head that day so maybe the new Irish Coach could introduce some sledging for the national team which is incomprehensible to the opposition and let's face it, it doesn't even have to be sledging.

Lorcan Tucker is a native Irish speaker so he could lead the torrent from behind the stumps and maybe for crossborder solidarity, a little bit of Ulster Scots can be introduced as well. Sledging certainly was not rampant in the game back in my playing time, but there were some entertaining episodes too.

In Pembroke, one evening as Pembroke pulled down the shutters and batted for a draw, poor Tim Sullivan toiled away for YMCA trying to make the breakthrough in face of the dead bats of the home side. As he once again was greeted with a pristine forward defence, he noticed a few people rise from their seats and start packing up for home, he turned back to the batter “Mate, even your public are walking out on ya”.

Or in Clontarf, where Rossa Bunworth was bowling a magnificent spell, fast and the ball swinging, he kept going past the bat of the Railway batsman who in fairness was not having his best day. Another ball whizzed past the edge and into the keeper’s gloves. That was enough for poor Rossa. Exasperated, frustrated and totally pi**ed off he stood, in the middle of the wicket, hands on hips and desperately tried to vocalise his thoughts. “You….You….You….You” At this stage Fergus Carroll had started a book in the slips cordon and “Cad” was odds on favourite as the choice of insult to be delivered, Rossa being the cultured type. However after a considerable number of “Yous” he produced the extraordinary “You…shotless wonder”.

I’m pretty sure that even the batsman joined with the fielders in dissolving into hysterics. Laughter stopped play. Rossa enjoying the adultation, decided to follow up with the old classic “I’ll bowl you a piano, see if you can play that” at which stage we all trundled back to our positions, the moment lost. Sometimes you can try too hard, Rossa.

But the phrase, the shotless wonder, became a catch all in our portion of the Northside for the struggling batsman for years. So sledging is usually an odd word here and there designed in the words of Steve Waugh, to produce mental disintegration.

There is another form of sledging though. This one was the choice of Merrion wicketkeeper, Angus Hancock. What he did was start talking on ball 1 when his side took the field and continue until ball 300 (no legside wides in those days and maybe this is why). Pretty sure it continued on through tea and likely into Merrion’s batting innings. But for a while we were free. Boy, could that lad talk. At least we only played Merrion a couple of times a season, so it was short term pain. Until Gussie decided to take the bus across the Liffey and join us. A whole season, we had to put up with it. And the next and the next and so on. Honestly he never stopped. You have never seen a slip cordon disappear quite so quickly, usually a nice spot for a bit of relaxation, now a no go area. This type of sledging demands a lot of the sledger so its not for everyone, though a certain current Clontarf wicketkeeper seems to have taken some inspiration from Gus and continues the pattern.

Of course, these days it is normal for just about everyone on the field of play to be engaging in chatter. A cricket field has become a cacophony of nonsense as extra cover seeks to outshout mid wicket while fine leg looks to make sure they are not forgotten. And it adds little or nothing despite what some might say. I have heard it said that it creates an “energy” about the team. Maybe the person who propagated that line of nonsense forgot that a significant proportion of the population find noise and the creation of noise to be de-energising. But hey, can't get in the way of another coaching philosophy.

Bowlers out there, a quiz question for you, which is more important to you, the quiet fielder who dives,chases, busts a gut when the ball is hit their way or the person who sees their job as creating “energy”. Yea, thought it might be that one. Now I’m not saying the occasional gee up is not in order, far from it but the orchestrated din is unnecessary, distracting for your own team, never mind the opposition and potentially self defeating.

Rant over. Well, not quite actually while we are on the topic of noise. Its a bigger issue and one that is so depressing that I intend only to gloss over, but still feel it needs a mention, and that is the over appealing which goes on week after week. Yes, a bowler is entitled to appeal, indeed the fielders are too but I draw the line at deep backward square leg, letting rip from 60 odd yards. My record this year is an over which included 5 appeals out of the 6 bowled in one over.

Not little, polite half appeals, full blown roars that indicated that all concerned truly believed this one was most definitely out. All given not out by the umpire. A senior game which included senior international players. It was not just depressing but tiresome.

I witnessed another game during which some of the brightest talent in the country attempted to bully umpires by appealing while also taking the trouble to set off in celebration before a decision had been made. Do they teach this stuff somewhere? The umpires handled it pretty well but seriously, lads, take a look at yourselves, trust me one day, you will realise just how embarrassing your behaviour is.

So that's it, I have said my piece, apologies for going on a bit, it all turned a bit negative towards the end, so let us remember that we all know each other in this game, it is a small community, a bit of respect, for opposition, yourselves and the game doesn't go amiss.