India complaint threatens to sour relations with England
MUMBAI (Reuters) - As England paceman Jimmy Anderson faces the prospect of a ban following a complaint from India, relations between the sides are in danger of becoming seriously soured in the wake of the latest contentious issue involving the Asian powerhouse.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) charged England's bowling spearhead under level 3 of the code of conduct for allegedly "abusing and pushing Ravindra Jadeja" during the opening test of the five-match series in Nottingham last week.
Anderson, adjudged man of the match in the test for his all-round performance, was charged after India team manager Sunil Dev reported the alleged incident that took place immediately after the players left the field for lunch on the second day.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) are backing their senior player, expressing "surprise" at India's complaint for what they dubbed as a "minor incident".
Anderson, who turns 32 this month, faces a ban of at least two test matches if found guilty after a hearing, the date of which has not yet been announced by the ICC.
Incidentally, Anderson was at the receiving end during the 5-0 Ashes drubbing when Australia captain Michael Clarke was caught by a stump microphone telling the bowler to get ready for a 'broken' arm when the paceman was batting.
Both teams moved quickly to bury the hatchet over the incident, ensuring it was soon forgotten and the focus returned to cricket.
"I think it's important that both sides recognise that a couple of scenes in that last test weren't great for the game of cricket," England captain Alastair Cook told reporters after the Brisbane incident.
"It's important that we play in the right way. I think people want to see real tough cricket, that's what they enjoy, especially between England and Australia, but there's got to be a boundary that we don't cross."
Trent Bridge has witnessed a fair bit of bad blood between India and England in the past.
In 2007, India's pace spearhead Zaheer Khan accused England of throwing jelly beans on the pitch while he batted, which spiralled into a major controversy.
The visitors, under Rahul Dravid, won the series 1-0 with a win at the same venue after Zaheer's heroics with the ball.
Trent Bridge averted a major dispute the last time India toured the country in 2011 when Ian Bell was contentiously run out at the stroke of tea, having left the crease thinking the ball was dead.
Visiting skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni diffused the tension by withdrawing the appeal after being approached by England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower during the tea break, letting Bell bat again after the interval.
In 2008, India spinner Harbhajan Singh was banned for three tests for racially abusing Australia all-rounder Andrew Symonds but the penalty was later reduced to a fine on appeal.
India had threatened to call off the tour, with the incident escalating into the infamous 'monkeygate' scandal.
The ugliest dispute involving India was, however, in 2001 when ICC match referee Mike Denness, a former England cricketer, found Sachin Tendulkar guilty of ball tampering and sanctioned several other Indian cricketers for various breaches during a test in South Africa.
India refused to play the third test if Denness was not stood down, which the ICC did not accede, and the match was stripped off its official status after the referee was removed by the South African and Indian boards.
The latest Trent Bridge spat comes a month after ICC restructuring saw the India and England boards, along with Australia, join forces to overhaul the sport's governing body for a bigger share of revenue.
(Editing by John O'Brien)
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