It was the eve of the Lord’s Test, between England and India, and almost nobody wanted to ask anything to the two captains about cricket. The press conferences with both, Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni were all about the incident between James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja.
Team India charged the England fast bowler under Level 3 of the ICC Code of Conduct for Players and Support Personnel for abusing and pushing Jadeja on the second day of the Trent Bridge Test.
Dhoni, expressing his views on the matter, said, “We talk a lot about the spirit of the game. There are guidelines that need to be followed. You can be aggressive and vocal but should also follow them.”
It is not very often that a player is charged for a Level 3 offence. When asked if Anderson’s alleged offence was that serious, the Indian captain said, “Yes, at least that’s what we think.”
Elaborating with an example, Dhoni said, “In this press conference, you can ask me tough questions and I have the right to answer it or choose not to. But in no way, can I touch you.”
England skipper, Cook, had different views on the matter. He actually believes that pressing the charge against the hosts’ best bowler is some sort of tactic that India are using after the tightly fought first Test.
"It is probably a tactic a little bit from India if we are being honest,” Cook said. “We hope if the ball swings during this Test Jimmy will want his cricket to do the talking. We were surprised it was a level three incident after hearing both sides of it and what happened."
Even as he claimed that he “didn’t see what really happened”, Cook was vehement in his defense of his bowler.
"As players we know we can't cross the line but in the heat of the moment there have been situations when we have all looked back and thought we went too far but that is not the case in this incident. I like it when Jimmy is in the battle because it means he is up for it and desperate to do well for England. Others get behind him because they see a competitive guy and they love that."
Dhoni, on the other hand, admired how Jadeja handled the situation by not retaliating to Anderson’s action. “It’s a constant thing that keeps happening,” the captain said. “Somebody starts something and we retaliate and we are fined. Jadeja didn’t retaliate. He responded in an appropriate manner. Somebody has to back off at the right time. We should learn from it and move on.”
While both captains differed in their views regarding the incident, they agreed on one thing. They both hoped the incident will not leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth as the series progresses.
“We have to make sure that the remaining matches are played in the right spirit, but at the same time they are not docile,” Dhoni said. “We want the players to be aggressive and say a few things but also play in the right spirit. I’ll do what is in my control to ensure that.”
Cook seconded. "I hope it does not [sour relations]. Both MS and I have responsibility as captains to make sure we control our players and don't let that happen because we have a responsibility to the people watching the game and under the ICC rules. It might make it good viewing but I don't think we will see that happen."