Opinion: ECB tend to have 'spirit' double standards

Blog Opinion

Either response without the full facts is a little foolish, but there is a striking contradiction in the response of Team England when the Spirit of Cricket is invoked.

Word has spread of an incident that took place on the second day of the Trent Bridge Test. England's opening bowler James Anderson allegedly pushed and abused Indian spin bowler and scorer of first class triple centuries, Ravi Jadeja.

The argument is said to have happened as the players left the field for lunch on day two. Just before the interval, Anderson had an appeal turned down for a caught behind, and he was seen remonstrating with the Indian batsmen as they left the field. The Indian management have said that this continued once inside the pavilion.

England seem to have felt that the altercation was forgotten about, but they were informed on Monday that the India tour management had reported Anderson to the ICC. This seems to have come as quite a surprise, and the ECB were quick to express support for Anderson and their disappointment that it had been reported in such a way.

They talk of it being a minor incident and Anderson is said to be strenuously denying the charge.

That is not to say that the incident did not happen. Clearly something went on as the teams made their way back to the changing rooms. The question appears to be one of seriousness rather than whether a confrontation took place.

The ECB have now said that they are going to make a counter claim against Jadeja, who according to some reports was not the instigator of the fracas but was just as aggressive in response, with Paul Newman of the Daily Mail reporting that the India player needed to be held back by his captain.

As ever, the social media bandwagons started rolling, with people either springing to Anderson's defence or surrounding him with metaphorical pitchforks. Either response without the full facts is a little foolish, but there is a striking contradiction in the response of Team England when the Spirit of Cricket is invoked.

There are allegations with a fair amount of evidence to back them up that they use the ethereal code when it best suits them. When Jos Buttler was the victim of a Mankad many within the England camp spoke of how disgusting that was.

However, the same England team is happy to sledge opponents, something that is direct contravention of the Spirit preamble to the laws. Anderson has a reputation as a player that often partakes in 'mental disintegration' of his opponents.

In fairness to the England bowler he does not mind taking it back, as seen by his reaction to Michael Clarke's 'broken f**king arm' comment during the Ashes. What is certain is that Anderson is far from a blameless victim.

Some have claimed that this is some sort of cynical attempt by India to get England's leading bowler banned. This seems odd if the incident did indeed take place. The only person who is to blame is Anderson, for allowing himself to get involved in the first place. If he had not confronted Jadeja he would not be facing censure.

Some have said that it should have been kept under wraps, without the need to make a complaint or to go public. England had no such misgivings about secrecy when the incident in a Birmingham nightclub between David Warner and Joe Root came to light. It seems strange that claims of privacy should be made now.

Some have argued that the length of time India took to raise the issue is evidence of some sort of subterfuge. This too is baseless. It now seems that the complaint was made within 24 hours of the incident.

Once it was suggested that it was a level 3 breach of the code of conduct it was out of the hands of match officials. It even seems that an ICC lawyer flew into England in an attempt to broker a peace deal between the sides that saw the incident hushed up. India said no, evidence perhaps that they felt very strongly about what has occurred.

There are two sides to every story, sometimes even a few more than that. It could be that Jadeja is as much to blame as Anderson. However, Anderson allowed himself to be in this position. Ultimately he has behaved in a way that appears to contravene the ICC code of conduct, something of which he will be well aware. If is not hidden away from the players.

If you are going to speak of the importance of the game being played in the right spirit you have to be expected to be held up to those same standards. While Anderson is not one of the more vocal supporters of such sentiments, the team in which he plays is.

Double standards are pretty unedifying, as is this whole incident.

<b>Peter Miller</b>