Sydney: Former Formula One driver Mark Webber has called for more sledging in cricket, saying the Australians should go even further in their verbal battle against England during the Ashes.
The first two Tests have involved heated exchanges between players, including Australian skipper Michael Clarke threatening tailender James Anderson with a broken arm in Brisbane.
Clarke was fined 20 per cent of his match fee for the outburst, but the sparring continued in the second Test where England’s Matt Prior had a running verbal battle with several Australian players on the fourth day.
While Clarke was criticised for going too far, players on both sides have said the confrontations have been largely unremarkable in the tradition of Ashes contests, and Webber called for more as Australia are up 2-0 and on the cusp of winning back the urn.
“My opinion on the sledging is the more the better. I want to see plenty of it. It’s a brilliant part of the sport,” Webber, who bade farewell to F1 at the Brazilian Grand Prix last month, said in a blog on Sportlobster.
“David Warner describing English performers as ‘poor’ and ‘weak’, or Michael Clarke telling Anderson his arm would be broken is all tiddlywinks compared to the 80s. You have to remember these guys aren’t young boys, they’re grown men.
“I love a bit of verbal, it’s a long day out in the field, they’ve got to talk to someone!” he added.
Webber, who said he used to play cricket with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin at school, said he believed that the Australian fans had contributed to the home team’s success which follows a dismal 3-0 loss in England earlier this year.
“I actually had a chat with Stuart Broad at the British Grand Prix this year and I told him that if the crowd get involved and the English let them get on top, it might seriously hamper their performance, and that’s exactly what’s happened,” he said.
“It’s not the nicest place to visit if you’re on your heels.”
Webber said in F1 drivers didn’t really talk to each other off the track, and cricket was unusual because the players could converse with each other. “There aren’t many sports where you get the chance to do that so it makes it more exciting,” he said.
Webber, for the record, joined Porsche for the final test this year of its LMP1 hybrid racer, which will fight for honours in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours and the Sports Car World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Webber officially joins the Porsche factory team on January 1, 2014. He joins Le Mans winners Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani in the driving line-up. (Agencies)