Only a month ago, the International Cricket Council (ICC) embraced revolutionary reforms and handed the reins of the game to the three influential powers in the game; India, England and Australia.
Immediately, there were claims of growing harmony and trust between the bigwigs, who supposedly were keen on strengthening the base of cricket besides filling the coffers of all Test-playing nations.
But just after a short foray into the alliance, the ‘Pushgate’ spat is increasingly upsetting the cordial ties between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
The BCCI has asked the ICC to review the decision by Judicial Commissioner Gordon Lewis to exonerate James Anderson, who was charged with pushing and verbally abusing India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja during the Nottingham Test of the ongoing England-India series.
It was indeed an incensed Indian side, led by captain MS Dhoni, that insisted on an inquiry after he claimed that Anderson had ‘crossed the line’. Dhoni has subsequently openly spoken about his displeasure at ICC’s handling of the affair and allowing Anderson to escape scot-free.
The BCCI and the Indian team are seemingly adamant on getting a verdict in their favour and their latest plea with ICC is likely to force Chief Executive Dave Richardson to file an appeal on the verdict by the judicial commissioner.
The English media had a field day after Anderson was exonerated, and a leading newspaper termed the decision in the favour of the fast-bowler ‘akin to an innings defeat for the tourists’.
On the other hand, the Indian media have bemoaned Anderson’s on-field antics and have called for a ban on the temperamental bowler.
In the larger context, the seemingly unending drama, the charge and the counter-charge from the two parties threatens the England-India alliance that is in its infancy.
Both boards and teams are not willing to take a step back, and as has been often the case, the ICC appears to be a toothless tiger that has failed to cow down two of its strongest members.
In the years gone by, such controversies have dampened relations between various cricket boards, and one is not sure that the ‘Big Three’ can afford a fall-out at such an early stage of its existence.
The rest of the boards are keeping a close eye on the proceedings and must be alarmed at the escalation of what at first seemed an ordinary discipline breach between two hot-headed individuals.
It is also pertinent to question the ICC’s code of conduct and whether it needs to be revisited after the Nottingham incident; the connoisseurs of cricket have for long felt that players generally escape serious discipline breaches through the ‘flexibility in the law’.
While seeing the players having a go at each other is a most captivating spectacle, one fears that a lunatic might eventually end up ‘breaking the teeth of another’, as Anderson reminded Jadeja.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2014.
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