LONDON, (AFP) – Australia captain Michael Clarke has insisted his side “won’t overstep the mark” when it comes to the vexed question of ‘sledging’ during the upcoming Ashes series.

England and New Zealand have just completed an enthralling Test and one-day international campaign where both sides have shown it is possible to play bold and aggressive cricket without resorting to ‘sledging’ — verbal abuse of opposition players.

New Zealand, who’ve long given up on ‘sledging’, have been widely praised in particular for the way they’ve conducted themselves under the captaincy of Brendon McCullum.
However, there are fears that things could get out of hand when the latest edition of international cricket’s oldest rivalry starts with the first Test between England and Australia in Cardiff commencing on July 8. During Australia’s 5-0 home Ashes triumph in 2013/14, there were several unsavoury incidents, notably when Clarke told England tailender James Anderson to “get ready for a broken fucking arm” during the first Test in Brisbane.

However, Clarke, in his first formal press conference of Australia’s tour, was adamant the ‘verbals’ would remain within bounds.

“I’m confident the series will be played in the right spirit,” Clarke told reporters at Merchant Taylors’ School, north of London, on Sunday. “Both teams will play hard.
“I know I probably say this every series — but we respect there’s a line you can’t cross.

“Both teams might ‘head-butt’ that line, but I’m confident we won’t overstep the mark.”
As far as many of their opponents are concerned the ‘line’ only becomes visible for Australia when someone says something that one of their players takes exception to, although Clarke subsequently labelled his threat to Anderson as a “regrettable moment”. However, Clarke added that Australia had no plans to abandon their usual style in the field.