The CBS Top 5 relives some incidents when tempers came dangerously close to boiling over, resulting in some of the most infamous confrontations involving Australian players in what was long regarded as the ‘gentleman’s game’.
5. Andrew Symonds v Waqar Younis
Veteran speed demon Waqar created headlines in the early stages of the 2003 World Cup when he bowled two blatant beamers at Andrew Symonds, the second prompting the Australian all-rounder to march up the pitch and remonstrate with the bowler. Waqar, the Pakistan captain, was subsequently ordered out of the attack by umpire David Shepherd, while Symonds went on to plunder 143 in Australia’s resounding 82-run victory.
4. Steve Waugh v Curtly Ambrose
No one in their right mind would want to upset the intimidating Ambrose, but dogged Australian stalwart Waugh was never one to back down from a challenge. On the opening day of the third Test at Port of Spain in 1995, West Indian pace spearhead Ambrose had to be restrained by teammates after he reacted angrily to what he perceived as Waugh swearing at him. Waugh finished unbeaten on 63 while Ambrose took 5/46 to skittle Australia for 128; Ambrose won the battle as man-of-the-match in a nine-wicket win, but Waugh won the war with 200 in the following Test to drive Australia to a series win – the Windies’ first Test series loss in 15 years.
3. Glenn McGrath v Ramnaresh Sarwan
The Windies’ world record fourth-innings chase at St John’s in 2003, but the match was marred by an ugly incident involving Glenn McGrath and Ramnaresh Sarwan. McGrath, a world-class sledger, allegedly asked the Windies batsman, “What does Brian Lara’s c*ck taste like?”, to which Sarwan replied, “I don’t know. Ask your wife.” McGrath’s wife, Jane, was in the midst of a long cancer battle that she tragically lost in 2008, and fired back at Sarwan, “If you f**king mention my wife again, I’ll f**king rip your f**king throat out.” Umpire David Shepherd intervened as the situation threatened to get out of hand, while Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer raced in to give Sarwan both barrels. For his part, Sarwan was unaware of Jane’s condition, and he and McGrath patched things up after the remarkable Test.
2. Andrew Symonds v Harbhajan Singh
In a 2008 match embroiled in controversy already due to a string of poor umpiring decisions, and eventually won by Australia by 122 runs with only minutes of the final day to spare, a fiery aftermath ensued in the form of the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal. In 2007, Andrew Symonds had been subjected to racist taunts by Indian fans, who called Symonds a ‘monkey’. Niggly Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh allegedly repeated the slur after Symonds sledged Harbhajan during India’s first innings on Day 3. In an ICC hearing after the match, Harbhajan, who denied the allegations, was sensationally banned for three Tests.
1. Dennis Lillee v Javed Miandad
Superstar Australian fast bowler Lillee and Pakistan’s gun batsman Miandad produced the standard-bearer for all cricketing confrontations at the WACA in 1981. During Pakistan’s second innings – in which they were chasing a near-impossible 543 to win – Lillee and captain Miandad collided mid-pitch, with most contending the fiery bowler was to blame. Lillee then walked up to Miandad and kicked him from behind, before Miandad raised his bat as if shaping to hit Lillee with it. Former Australian greats Bob Simpson, Keith Miller and Ian Chappell all publicly slammed Lillee’s antics, but he was slapped on a wrist with a feather by the ACB, who meted out a paltry two-match ban (a pair of ODIs) and a $120 fine.