The Ashes: Top 10 best sledges in Ashes history

There's no love lost when it comes to the Ashes so when England and Australia hit the pitch, the war of words can escalate quickly. Here are the ten most memorable.

While Australia have often been accused of approaching their cricket in an arrogant, almost dismissive way, especially during the height of the powers from the late 90s through for the next decade, both Ashes combatants have had their fair share of verbal tussles on the field over the years.

Here, we dig through the countless vocal battles to pick out the ten best sledges in Ashes cricket history.

  1. 10 The Barmy Army vs Matthew Hayden

    The 12th man once termed them a "bunch of lager louts who get pissed as chooks in the blazing Australian son and sing boring songs all day," and while there are plenty who subscribe to that theory, few can deny the Barmy Army have thrown out some great quotable lines over the years, but none more so than a tremendous dig at Matthew Hayden.

    Hayden, the broad-shouldered opener from Queensland had tormented opponents, particularly England, and when he wasn't plundering runs with the bat, Hayden fancied himself as a dab hand in the kitchen, which led to him releasing a cookbook, a natural target for the travelling English fans.

    With little more to pepper Hayden with, one member of the Barmy Army unfurled a tremendous line directed right at the left-hander.

    English fan: “You’re s***, Hayden, and so is your chicken casserole.”

    It might not have been the most stinging line ever delivered, but it probably had Hayden a little worried about how his culinary teachings would stack up against his prowess with the blade.

  2. 9 Derek Randall vs Dennis Lillee

    Sometimes, the best form of attack is defence, or at least a bit of self-deprecation, which English batsman Derek Randall unleashed perfectly when confronted with the destructive Dennis Lillee and some added verbals.

    With Lillee sending down a series of searing bouncers and fiery deliveries, plenty of which contacted the body of Randall, and one which smacked him square on the head, Randall composed himself before delivery a great line back to Australian quick.

    Randall: "No good hitting me there, mate, nothing to damage."

  3. 8 Phil Tufnell vs the Umpire

    Sometimes your frustration can get so great on a cricket pitch you have to let it all out, regardless of who might cop the brunt of it. That was the case when England spinner Phil Tufnell, known as the bad boy of England cricket, let the decision-maker know he wasn't happy with how things had been going.

    After an appeal for LBW against Dean Jones was turned down, Tufnell unleashed on the umpire who did not understand what he'd just heard.

    Tufnell: “Are you bloody blind?”

    Umpire: “I beg your pardon?”

    Tufnell: “Are you f****** deaf as well?”

    I can't say for certain, but I'm not sure Tufnell's outburst will have helped him with any marginal appeals for the rest of the match.

  4. 7 Tim Zoehrer vs Phil Edmonds

    Well known for being rather chatty behind the stumps, it was after a torrent of abuse from England left-arm spinner Phillipe-Henri Edmonds, or Phil Edmonds as is better known, that Zoehrer felt the need to deliver a tremendous response.

    Phil Edmonds' wife Frances was a well-known author, and it was her fame that helped Zoehrer do his level best to shut Edmonds up for a while, putting things into perspective quickly.

    Zoehrer: "At least I have an identity. You're just Frances Edmonds' husband."

  5. 6 Robin Smith vs Merv Hughes

    As talented as Robin Smith was, he's best known for being the man to have played in 15 Ashes Test matches and not winning a single Test, losing 11 and drawing four, but on this occasion, he notched a small victory against one of the best sledgers in the business, Merv Hughes.

    Hughes and Smith had gone toe to toe in the past and were fiery combatants at the best of times, so when Hughes let Smith know he didn't think his game had improved much since the last time they'd played each other, Smith was happy to respond with both blade and a few words.

    Hughes: "It's four years since I bowled to you and you haven't improved."

    Following this, Smith smacks Hughes away for a crisply hit boundary, adding a further four runs to the England total. He then calmly delivered the perfect response.

    Smith: "Neither have you."

  6. 5 Bill Woodfull vs Douglas Jardine

    While most of the more vulgar or racey comments come from more modern times, it's refreshing to know sledging has been part of cricket for as long as the bat and the ball.

    During the infamous 'Bodyline' series, English captain Douglas Jardine, known as the architect of the controversial tactic to stop the dominant Don Bradman, took exception to being sworn at by one of the Australian players.

    Jardine registered his complaint with Australian captain Bill Woodfull, who took a marvellous tact with the issue.

    Jardine: "Your slip just swore at me."

    Woodfull: "All right, which one of you b******s called this b****** a b******?"

  7. 4 Merv Hughes vs Graeme Hick

    Merv Hughes is probably the most consistent deliverer of top-notch sledges in Ashes history, so it's no surprise he features heavily here on this list. This sledge, in particular, is definitely one of Merv's better digs, and it hit right at the heart of England batsman Graeme Hick.

    Hick was a prodigious talent when he burst onto the scene but he never really fulfilled his potential at international level for England. Hick played 65 Tests for England, but despite his obvious ability with the bat in hand, he finished his career with a batting average a tick over 30, well below what many had expected, and it didn't take long for opposition players to let Hick know they thought he was struggling.

    The Australians and Merv, in particular, had no issues delivery a stinging remark while Hick was at the crease.

    Hughes: "Mate, if you just turn the bat over you'll find the instructions on the other side."

  8. 3 David Hookes vs Tony Greig

    Sadly no longer with us, both combatants in this one left their own unique indelible mark on the game of cricket in Australia and around the world, including the Ashes.

    Tony Greig, one of the earlier South Africans to have worn an England cap, was seen as a pioneer for the English bringing talent from the far reaches of the Empire (see Pietersen, Kevin amongst plenty others) and he copped a fair bit of stick over the years from his peers for switching camps.

    Even as a youngster, Hookes was brash, confident and a little cocky, and he had no issues going toe to toe with the much more experienced Greig, whether with the bat in hand or in the verbal arena.

    When Greig deigned to ask Hookes when he might go through puberty, Hookes wasted no time in firing back at the England legend.

    Greig: "When are your balls going to drop sonny?"

    Hookes: "I don’t know, but at least I’m playing cricket for my own country."

  9. 2 Shane Warne vs Paul Collingwood

    Ok, this one won't go down as one the cleverest or most witty sledge ever delivered on a cricket pitch. It probably wasn't even the best sledge of the match in which it was delivered, but for sheer frustration and disbelief, and for being a fair question, Shane Warne's query to Paul Collingwood in the wake of the 2005 Ashes series deserves a mention here.

    We all know when England won the 2005 Ashes they enjoyed it, probably too much, and they were brought back down to earth by a 5-0 whitewash at the hands of Ricky Ponting's men the next time around, but it was Shane Warne, well known for a well-timed few words on a cricket pitch who asked Paul Collingwood a savage question and had us all in stitches.

    Warne: “You’ve got an MBE, right? For scoring seven at The Oval? You’re an embarrassment.”

    Collingwood may be proud of his MBE, but it's safe to say Warney had a fair point.

  10. 1 James Ormond vs Mark Waugh

    It's safe to say James Ormond's England career didn't break too many records, with the well-built fast-medium swing bowler only playing in 2 Test matches. 

    With that in mind, the little-known Ormond from Coventry etched his name in the folklore of the greatest rivalry in cricket history with just a dozen words, delivered swiftly and in reply to a vicious verbal assault from one of the most recognizable figures in world cricket.

    When Australian legend and one-half of the famous Waugh brothers Mark Waugh questioned why Ormond was on the field during his Test debut, many young players would have shied away from entering into any verbal duel but not Ormond who delivered a witty riposte which left Waugh stunned and thousands around the world laughing.

    Waugh: "Look who it is. Mate, what are you doing out here? There's no way you're good enough to play for England."

    Ormond: "Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my family".

    What are your favourite sledges from the annals of Ashes history? Let us know in the comments below.

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