Port Elizabeth - The Aussies are a proud nation of sledgers, usually turning their wit on the opposition, but one of their funniest sledges has to be the chirp Ian Healy reserved for his team-mate Shane Warne.
“Shane’s idea of a balanced diet is having a cheeseburger in either hand,” said the wicketkeeper.
Warne will be remembered by South African fans as having a long-lasting love affair with our own Daryll Cullinan.
“I’ve been waiting two years for another chance to humiliate you,” Warne said after a long absence.
“Looks like you spent it eating,” Cullinan replied.
The Kiwis can be lippy when cornered, as former Aussie skipper Steve Waugh once found out. He was fielding in the slips when former New Zealand wicketkeeper Adam Parore arrived at the crease. Parore swatted at the first ball he faced – and missed.
Waugh chirped: “You were s**t then and you’re effing useless now.”
Parore came back: “Yeah, mate, that’s me. When I was there, you were going out with that ugly old slut. I hear you married her.”
Another story – possibly apocryphal – involves the late Hansie Cronje’s former team-mate Kosie Venter. They were batting for Free State against the visiting Aussies in the mid-1990s. Warne was bowling to Venter, with Healy behind the stumps. Healy took one look at the portly Venter and advised: “Bowl a Mars bar halfway down, Shane, we’ll get him out stumped.”
Take away size, weight and sexual partners, and we could be forgiven for thinking the topics are exhausted. Not so. Self-love is a rich vein to mine, or so thought Aussie fast bowler Dennis Lillee when he had to confront Yorkshireman Geoff Boycott in an Ashes series.
“Geoff is the only person I know who fell in love with himself at a young age and has remained faithful ever since,” said Lillee to guffaws and thigh-slapping from the slip cordon.
It is fair to say that former Zimbabwean wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu wasn’t the most liked player on the international circuit. In a game against the Proteas, then keeper Mark Boucher retaliated for what he believed were Taibu’s chirps from a previous game.
As Taibu struggled to get bat on ball, Boucher said: “You’re going to get out now because you are averaging single figures for this tour – I’ll even escort you back to the dressing-room.”
Taibu studiously ignored Boucher, concentrating on getting bat on ball, which he failed to do. This provoked further fury from the South African gloveman: “What are you averaging Tatenda? You must know your average? Nine or 10? I think we’ll give you a nine. Or maybe it’s a 9.5, in which case we’ll round it up, so we’ll give you a 10.”
Shortly after that, Taibu went out, well and truly felled.