I have read with much amusement the shenanigans going on between the England and India test match cricket teams in England this week. For those how have missed it here is a summation of what has gone on:
- James Anderson (England) and Ravindra Jadeja (India) were involved in a verbal altercation during the first test at Trent Bridge last week.
- That altercation continued after the players adjourned from the field for a lunch break which lead to a physical altercation.
- Said altercation was not witnessed by the umpires and no report was made to the match referee, David Boon, about it.
- When the Indian team raised the matter with Boon he suggested the teams work it out amongst themselves.
- India, not sated, complained to higher-ups within the ICC leading to Anderson being charged with a Level 3 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct.
- England have made a complaint now against the Jadeja.
Much has been made in the competing press about the charges and whether India should have pushed the matter the way that they have. The fact is that I think they were 100% right to make the complaint they did and here is why:
- The issue of player behaviour on the field is one that has been festering for some time. I have no cavil with sledging, as I have written about before, but increasingly, particularly in situations where one team is on top in a game, we are seeing overt discussions between opposing players that continue for more than just a ball but for overs on end and, indeed, whole days of play. This is, at best, ugly, and, at worst, not in the spirit of the game. The fact that another such incident spilled over the change rooms might be OK in country cricket but it can not be acceptable at the top level of the game.
- The days of players “going around the back of the pavilion” to sort out a problem are long gone. Anyone cogently suggesting that the players should have been left to their own devices to do that is not instep with current community values.
- James Anderson is a serial offender when it comes to going to too far when it comes to sledging and on field aggression and, one suspects, the fact that he has not been brought into line played a part in his poor conduct on this occasion. Let’s not forget that in all of the kerfuffle about Michael Clarke’s threat to “break Anderson’s arm” in the first test at the Gabba in 2013 it was Anderson who had threatened physical violence against George Bailey that lead to that confrontation.
There is a lot of anger and aggression, it would seem, between certain teams in international cricket at the moment. It seems every game involving Australia, South Africa, England and India (or a combination of any of them) includes an unseemly incident or series of incidents between the teams. The fact that one of those incidents has spilled over to an off the field incident necessarily requires a strong response and by complaining to the ICC, India should be applauded for the stand they are taking.
PostScript: It is not lost on me that India are often the most aggressive of teams in that list noted above and, indeed, it might be considered hypocritical for them to be such an active complainant here. I concede that their conduct is not blameless but at some point someone has to take a stand and I am glad that someone had regardless of who it is or how hypocritical it might be.