CARRY ON SLEDGING! HARD WORDS: New England Chief Selector Geoff Miller (above Left) Wants Paul Collingwood and Co to Sledge Their Opponents but Will Not Allow Them to Sink to the Depths of the Australia- India Series (Left)
Byline: Bill Day
GEOFF MILLER, the new national selector, says England will be allowed tosledge their opponents in next year's Ashes series, providing they do not gotoo far.
An alleged racist remark soured the current series between Australia and India,with Ricky Ponting's men under heavy criticism that their hard-nosed winningattitude had turned into unnecessary abuse of the opposition.
England were themselves put under the microscope last summer, also againstIndia, after an incident famously involving jellybeans left on the pitch, andsome excessive talk in the field. But Miller, the ex-England off-spinner chosenlast week to replace David Graveney as principal selector on a full-time basiswith a salary of about [pounds sterling]80,000, wants England to adopt a competitive edge, andis happy for them to utilise what former Aussie captain Steve Waugh used tocall 'mental disintegration'.
'Sledging in the game has gone on for years,' said Miller, a selector since2000. 'I have no problem with that as long as it doesn't go overboard anddoesn't bring the game into disrepute.
It's all part of international cricket.
But racist remarks are out of order.' Miller, who appeared in 34 Tests and 25one-dayers, expects England teams to 'play with a smile' and would be happy forthe players to share a few drinks with the opposition on the dressing-roombalcony at the end of play. While he insists he is not concerned with theiroff-the-field behaviour, following some high-profile drinking incidentsinvolving the likes of Andrew Flintoff, he warned that he expects the team notto bring England into disrepute.
'Yes, we want England players to enjoy themselves,' said Miller, most famousfor the deflected catch in the slips that won one of the closest Ashes Tests inhistory in 1982. 'I want them to play with a smile, as long as you know fullwell the players are giving their all and playing to their maximum ability atall times.
'I go along with having a drink with the opposition, so long as you don't feelyou are an understudy with them in the middle. You've got to make sure youfight fire with fire. The Aussies are hard. England have got to be equallyhard. But I don't want to go round telling people how to behave. I simply wantthem at their best when they perform on the field and do nothing that could beconstrued as detrimental to the game. …