New Zealand promise they won't be sledging Australians
Setting an example: Sledging’s not on for Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum, and Australian opener David Warner exchanges words with Virat Kohli during the recent Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test series.
Australia talk about not crossing the line. New Zealand, it seems, don't talk at all.
The Black Caps on Wednesday declared they would not be fighting fire with fire in the sledging department during Saturday's World Cup match in Auckland.
The Australians have made aggression a key feature of their approach against opposition teams and there were several instances where on-field chatter boiled over during Australia's Test summer against India, with players from both sides reprimanded.
Straight bat: Black Caps coach Mike Hesson resisted the temptation to fire back at David Warner today.
The International Cricket Council subsequently indicated on the eve of the tournament it would take a hardline stance on behaviour, foreshadowing suspensions for serial offenders rather than fining them percentages of their match fees.
If New Zealand are to be believed, though, they will be in no danger of that kind of punishment arising from their Group A clash with Australia at Eden Park.
Their coach Mike Hesson said on Wednesday it was not the style of Brendon McCulllum's team to engage in banter, let alone verbal abuse, indicating the Australians would be ignored if they went down that route.
"We deal with plenty of sides that provide that and we just tend to go about our work," Hesson said.
"We don't get too caught up in that sort of stuff. We're pretty respectful of our opposition and we're competitive but we pretty much focus on our own job. We don't have a rule, but as I said we're just respectful of our opposition. We basically focus on what we're trying to do rather than anything else."
Kiwi batsman Corey Anderson had earlier said Australia's "sledging tactics are well-known now" and they would not bother New Zealand.
"It's something we haven't involved ourselves in. We're neutral on the field and we just stick to what we do," Anderson said. "We'll be expecting a little bit of heat from them but I guess that's just part of their game plan and we'll deal with it as it comes."
It's a mild-mannered approach that has won praise from one of McCullum's predecessors. Stephen Fleming, who was rated one of cricket's best captains when he led the Black Caps in 80 matches over the course of a decade in charge, said McCullum had set a great example.
"I've found him to be very respectful. There has been a lot of attention on the way teams play and I think what the New Zealand team has done is play aggressively but in the right spirit," Fleming said on Wednesday. "That was most evident in the Pakistan series after the Phillip Hughes tragedy and they've just continued that on. That gets a big tick in a lot of respects from me."
New Zealand's greatest ever bowler, Richard Hadlee, was also asked about the tactics used by Australia and the Kiwis when he appeared at a World Cup promotion in Auckland. "In our day, and I"m talking the 1970s and '80s, there was a lot of banter and some people crossed the line," Hadlee said.
"Today, players are still crossing the line and match referees are going to penalise them one way or the other, whether it's a fine or a suspension. As far as I'm concerned the spirit of the game is hugely important and I hope the players will respect that. I don't think there is anything wrong with a little bit of banter but, verbal abuse, there is no part in the game for that."