If you live in the Northern hemisphere, especially where there is snow, you will probably jump to the conclusion that I am talking about a winter sport using a type of toboggan, sleigh or sledge. Most dictionary entries begin with this meaning.
But for many, sledging has a completely different use, as a verb, in places where they play cricket. So right now in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India and its neighbours, there is surely plenty of sledging going on.
The captain, Archie Bloggs was fined $1000 for sledging
From this you guess that it is not regarded as acceptable. But it happens!
Sledging is using insults or verbal abuse towards your opponent in order to put him off his game. Given that cricket has plenty of slow moments as players change positions or new players come onto the field, it is ideal for a bit of strong backchat. Of course, other sports feature sledging too but it is often much quicker and either forgotten or it escalates into something more physical.
You can imagine too that emerging from “the gentleman’s sport”, there is considerable pride in finding a particularly sharp and witty insult. And indeed the internet has webpages where you can read some of the best in cricket (be warned that the sport has its own vernacular that can be hard to understand if you don’t know the terminology).
Some examples: A: So, how’s your wife and my kids?
B: Wife’s fine. Kids are retarded.
Bowler: I’ve been waiting two years for another chance at you
Batsman: Looks like you spent it eating
Bowler: If you turn the bat over you’ll get the instructions mate.
There are countless others with liberal use of the ‘f’ word which may not seem as funny on the page as they doubtlessly did on the field. Just google “best sledges in cricket or in sport” and you can have a good chuckle.