Towards the final few overs of the first test at Trent Bridge, the England captain Alastair Cook came on to bowl two innocuous overs of spin and seam bowling for the first time in a hundred tests. The fact that India’s bowling spearhead Ishant Sharma managed to get himself out by nicking a leg side delivery made things look rather comical and the stands were filled with delirious laughter. For a match that was marred by a dead pitch and four and a half days of dull cricket barring short bursts of excitement, it seemed like an ending that the ticket paying public badly needed.
Later on, press conferences were held by both teams and the usual protocol of performance assessment followed. But unknown to the public eye, things were unravelling pretty fast in the respective dressing rooms. The final result: the Indian team management has charged England’s fast bowler James Anderson with a Level 3 charge, accusing him of “pushing” India’s Ravindra Jadeja.
So here’s what we know so far:
During the last over before tea on Day 2, Anderson beat Jadeja’s edge in what looked like a close call. He went in up in fervent appeal but was rightly turned down for there was no edge at all. Aggrieved, he gave Jadeja a long stare before walking back to his mark. Things had been brewing between these two for some time now and the altercation seemed to have continued after tea. Anderson was seen having a chat with MS Dhoni while walking back to the pavilion and this is where things took an ugly turn.
It has been reported that Anderson allegedly pushed Jadeja on the way to the dressing room, a charge which Anderson and the ECB have vehemently denied. Instead the ECB has filed a counter complaint against Jadeja, accusing him of approaching Anderson in a ‘threatening manner’. Jadeja has been charged with a Level 2 offence.
The England skipper backed his team-mate and called this charge a ‘tactic’ by India to strike down his best bowler, which is mildly amusing. It represents a classic case of the ‘victim’ being crucified. Although this does not suggest that Anderson is actually guilty of this charge, it is an indicator of the mood in the English camp. This also does not suggest that Jadeja is innocent. The incident had taken place away from the glare of the cameras, hence any video evidence is ruled out, making it a case of your word against mine.
Cricket has not been a stranger to altercations and foul mouthing. Infact, sledging is now considered a part and parcel of the game. Modern day captains back players to be aggressive on the field, stating it makes them perform better when they are emotionally charged up. Commentators too seem to have got the hang of it, citing aggressive body language as being proportional to the passion for the game, which of course does not make perfect sense. Case in point, the recent Ashes series controversy involving Michael Clarke and James Anderson (again?). Anderson seemed to have irritated the Australian captain to such an extent that when Anderson came out to bat, Clarke allegedly asked him to ‘ get ready for ******* broken arm’. This incident was brushed aside by the administrators as a one off incident, citing the desire to win matches and passion for the game as primary reasons for the outburst. The same goes for the spat between Kieron Pollard and Mitchell Starc in IPL 7.
Responding to queries on the Jadeja-Anderson issue, former Australian captain Ian Chappell (who himself had many an altercations with Ian Botham) remarked that administrators were the sole ones to be blamed and stringent rules for such behavior should have been in place. It is a very valid point, but it is limited to on field exchanges. But what about off field incidents, like the infamous ‘punch’ that David Warner delivered to Joe Root at a night club in England? Though action was taken against Warner, the fact remains that he still remains a very temperamental player. Unless players themselves know where to draw the line, the game is in danger of taking the wrong direction. Imposing heavy fines and bans will not solve this issue, but self-policing by the players and the acceptance of the fact that at the end of the day, cricket is a sport and as cricketers it is their responsibility to uphold its spirit will do, at least to an extent.
Interestingly though, for a test series that never promised to liven up, thanks to an excruciatingly boring first game, this controversy spices things up a bit. This is not the first time that India has been involved in a series where charges have been filed against players. Back in 2008, the tour to Australia was an emotionally charged affair with the Monkey gate controversy. Ironically two years later, the two main characters of the controversy- Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, played for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. During the course of the tournament, they were seen hugging and hi-fiving each other, much to the amusement of fans. Cricketing universe is small place indeed.Share this post