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Cook defends Anderson's psyche

Alastair Cook, the England captain, has no intention of tempering his side's behaviour in the aftermath of James Anderson's disciplinary hearing, claiming international cricket should never be "nicey nicey".

James Anderson, Alastair Cook and Stephen Finn are all smiles at training. Picture: Reuters
James Anderson, Alastair Cook and Stephen Finn are all smiles at training. Picture: Reuters

Anderson heads into today's fourth Investec Test against India with all threat of punishment lifted, the International Cricket Council having declined to appeal against judicial commissioner Gordon Lewis' ruling on the seamer's altercation with Ravindra Jadeja.

That provides a long-awaited end to the saga, which saw the tourists lay a level-three charge against Anderson for allegedly pushing and abusing Jadeja in the pavilion during the Trent Bridge Test. Jadeja was in turn charged with a lesser offence by England, and initially fined, but Lewis threw out both cases citing inconclusive evidence.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India had urged ICC chief executive Dave Richardson to use his right of appeal but the South African opted to let the matter rest.

Speaking at Emirates Old Trafford, Cook offered a staunch defence of Anderson's on-field/off-field "split personality".

"We know every time you pull on the shirt as an England player, or any international side, you are role models for anyone watching, we're all aware of that," said Cook. "But we also want to play competitive cricket, we don't want to be too nicey nicey, with everyone saying they're playing in the right spirit. There's always that muddied line.

"Of course, there's little bits where Jimmy might have overstepped the mark throughout his career, but you'd rather be on that line than too passive. He's a very different personality when he crosses the line and I don't think anyone should moan about that because what happens on the field should stay on the field and off the field you should be a nice guy.

"You have to get yourself in that right mental state to perform and you do that when you need it most, which is obviously in the middle. That's when it's important and that's why he has that slightly split personality."

Despite's Lewis' ruling, the Anderson situation is just the latest in a sequence of spats involving England and opposing sides - with little love lost in the recent series against Australia and Sri Lanka.

Dhoni, who usually approaches his media commitments with the deadest of dead bats, has clearly been riled by the hosts and is struggling to hide it.

His words were somewhat contradictory, apparently calling for action to be taken against persistent foul-mouthedness but then denying it was Anderson's lip that had incited India to take action.

Yet there was no ambiguity about his general distaste for England's methods. "The world has changed and a lot of emphasis is put on winning games with so-called killer instinct, but it has been misinterpreted a lot," he said. "We need to realise about the MCC guidelines and spirit of the game because, in all sports, such guidelines need to be followed.

"At times officials are quite generous to individuals, they feel in the heat of the moment someone has said something and they go ahead because it is a one-off. But if someone is consistent with his abuse he should be punished. No matter who he is.

"Once the umpire tells him we have had enough and foul language should not be used, if the individual doesn't curb himself he must be punished. You can't move ahead saying abuse is part of the game. [But] we never said anything about [Anderson's] sledging. A few harsh words were spoken but we didn't report that. No, it was physical contact."

Dhoni was particularly eager to claim the moral high ground, at odds with Cook's hard-nosed take on on-field matters. "At the end of the day I want to be happy when I look in the mirror and sleep well," he added. "If something wrong is happening I will go against it irrespective of who is doing it."

The players will renew hostilities in Manchester with one final warning from Richardson lingering in their ears. In his official statement on the Anderson-Jadeja ruling, he wrote: "International cricket is tough, competitive and uncompromising but we must reiterate that there is no place in the game for the use of offensive language that is personally insulting of one player by another."

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