England will play the crucial third Test which starts on Sunday with the threat of a long ban hanging over their fast bowler, Jimmy Anderson. It is an extra burden that the side could undoubtedly do without as they seek to draw level with India in the Investec series.
Anderson was told today that the hearing of his serious level three charge under the ICC code of conduct will be held on 1 August, the day after the match at Southampton finishes. He was accused following an argument with his Indian opponent Ravindra Jadeja after a spat on the field during the first Test in Nottingham spilled over into the pavilion when the players had left for lunch on the second day.
India are confident they have enough evidence to make their charges of Anderson’s misbehaviour stick. England are equally adamant Anderson was barely at fault and that if he did anything it was in response to what Jadeja did to him.
In response to India’s accusation, England have brought a level two breach against Jadeja which carries a lesser penalty. The judicial commissioner appointed by the ICC, Judge Gordon Lewis of Australia, resisted what must have been a sore temptation to ask both players if their handbags had been confiscated by their team managements.
There is a case for England omitting Anderson from their team for Sunday’s match. They named a squad of 13 which contained six fast bowlers of whom they will need four. Anderson has been far from his peak form this season and the prospect of a lengthy ban hanging over him may not be conducive to rediscovering it in a match England cannot afford to lose if they are to win the series.
The feeling is that India have proceeded so far with their complaint because they are fed up with the scowling manner in which Anderson plays his cricket. While they may have a point, they are not entirely hail fellow and well met themselves. The teams can barely disguise a mutual dislike and distrust of each other’s antics, though at 1-0 up after winning the second Test at Lord’s on Monday by 95 runs, India can afford to be a little smug.
There was a chance that the judge could have thrown out the charges against Anderson. That he decided against doing so should not be an indication that he feels Anderson is guilty. He simply wants to hear the evidence, via video conference call.
Judge Lewis can reduce the level of charge against Anderson if he thinks fit. That seems to be the likeliest outcome if both players were equally at fault. Jadeja’s case will be dealt at a hearing with the match referee David Boon, probably before Sunday’s match.