| Dennis Lillee (top), Sunil Gavaskar
Melbourne: Dennis Lillee has mocked his former Indian rival Sunil Gavaskar for accusing Australia of tainting the image of cricket with sledging tactics.
Gavaskar, 54, on Tuesday called for “verbal bouncers” to be stopped to prevent damage to the game.
“Sledging has gone on since W.G. Grace and it will go on as long as any sport is played, not just cricket,” the former Australia paceman, also 54, was quoted as saying by Melbourne newspaper The Age on Friday. “If they think it’s too bad, the authorities are there to stop it.
“I think it’s funny coming from someone who took his bat and went home when an umpire’s decision went against him,” added Lillee.
Gavaskar protested after being given out leg-before for 70 off Lillee’s bowling during the Melbourne Test in February 1981.
The India captain led his batting partner Chetan Chauhan off the ground. They were met at the gate by a team official and Chauhan was sent back out.
“There are perhaps not even 15 (in Test cricket) who indulge in this verbal abuse and intimidation,” Gavaskar said while giving the Colin Cowdrey lecture for 2003 at Lord’s on Tuesday.
“But unfortunately most of these belong to a champion side (Australia) and it makes others believe that it’s the only way to play winning cricket,” added the former opener, who holds the world record for Test centuries with 34.
“Unless something is done quickly about it, the good name of the game that we all know will be mud,” cricket’s third highest run-scorer said.
“Just look at any school games anywhere in the world and we will see bowlers having a go at the batsmen. They see it on TV from their heroes and believe that it is a part of the game, and so indulge in it.”
Lillee, who took 355 wickets in 70 Tests, said: “I don’t know how much junior cricket he has watched in Australia! That’s not right.”
Gavaskar had added: “Now I have heard it being said that whenever there has been a needle in the match, words have been exchanged. That may be true, but what was banter in days gone by — and was enjoyed by everyone, including the recipient — today has degenerated to downright personal abuse.”