Merv Hughes’ Best Sporting Insults

Published: 2010
Pages: 207
Author: Pace, Daniel
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Rating: 3.5 stars

Merv Hughes' Best Sporting Insults

Sledging, chirping, trash talking, or as Steve Waugh called it mental disintegration, is the art of putting an opponent off their game. Despite what some would prefer it is here to stay and has given us some of the best cricketing anecdotes.

The term sledging was created by Australian cricketers in the 1970s and despite being a prominent player from the era, Kerry O’Keeffe, said sledging is overrated. Still this new book of sporting insults may force “Skull” to unleash a few of his famous guffaws and choking chuckles.

“Best Sporting Insults” brings together the best – or worst – sledges in Australian sport. Not surprisingly cricket dominates this book, as the author points out, this is probably because of the length of the game and the proximity of the players; it would be hard to sledge an opponent during a 100 metre sprint for instance, except maybe just before the gun goes off.

Merv Hughes is the perfect choice to put his name to this book, his quip “tickets please” after dismissing Javed Miandad, in reply to the Pakistan champions observation that Merv reminded him of a “fat bus driver” is a classic. Although Merv left out the “fat” part in his retelling of the story! (sorry Merv we are not very nice here at CW).

I would have liked to see some more of the subtle quotes from cricket, such as the one by Don Bradman after he had on driven a bowler for consecutive fours before lunch during a tour match in England. The wicket keeper had quipped “is that the only shot you can play?” Bradman replied “I will show you some different ones after lunch.” Bradman played another on drive hitting yet another four off the very next ball, and then turning to the keeper he said “after lunch mind you.”

Still you can’t include everything, and you will find all the best cricket sledges going back as far as the Bodyline series. With Cricket sledges taking up just under half the book there is not a lot of room left for the other seven featured sports, however only the best material is featured from these sports, such as the one in the Rugby section when New Zealand missed out on making the 2007 Rugby World cup and their passionate fans were advised to hand in their belts and shoelaces.

I enjoyed this book; it does not overstay its welcome, is well set out and researched, and would make an ideal Christmas gift.

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