Jadeja-Anderson spat proved the turning point

  • Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Aug 18, 2014 23:53 IST

It's all right to take a stand in support of your teammate, but sometimes it can be smart to avoid confrontation. This could be a lesson the Indian management learnt in England.

As the experts look back at how dramatically the fortunes changed in the series, where India led 1-0 after the first two Tests before losing 1-3, they can't help but look at the Ravindra Jadeja-James Anderson row as the turning point.

Read: Row with Jadeja helped channel my anger, says Anderson

Once the controversy gained heat, England and India were two different sides. So confident till the Lord's Test, India were reduced to stuttering rubble after the verdict was out at Southampton. On the other hand, England just went from strength to strength.

"I still question the wisdom of the India captain, with a very inexperienced team, to continue to pursue the Jadeja-Anderson issue. Dhoni says the focus didn't shift, but obviously, it had a lot of effect on the team because they were two different teams, from the first two Tests to the last three. You don't recognise India at all," former England opener Mark Butcher told HT on the sidelines of the fifth Test played at his homeground, The Oval.

"The focus really from everybody in India should have been: we have England on the canvas let's knock them out. But that was not the message coming out between Lord's and Southampton. It was all about court cases, it was all about appeals, it was all about the ICC and what they are going to do. I am not saying one side was right or one side was wrong. But in terms of cricket, it was irrelevant," said Butcher.

India captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher were determined to pursue the charge against Anderson. While India had valid reasons to feel aggrieved, they seemed to have faltered in ensuring that the off field issues didn't affect the focus of the team.

The incident, which should have acted as motivation, proved to be a distraction. It was in many ways similar to what happened at Sydney in 2007-08 after the Harbhajan Singh-Andrew Symonds spat. The senior players Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had then turned it around to motivate the team which led to the historic win at Perth.

India's planning and performance for the Old Trafford Test was poor. The decision to bat in seaming conditions defied logic and the batsmen proved sitting ducks for Anderson and Stuart Broad. Reduced to eight for four, the team never recovered and lost in two and a half days.

Apart from the injury to Ishant Sharma, what hurt India the most was the dip in performance of in-form players - Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

At The Oval, it was a repeat of the same script.

It was as if Anderson had gone into the India batsmen's psyche. He was at his best in the final three Tests and ended the series with 25 wickets at an average of 20.60 to be named Man of the Series.

He revealed to be inspired by the controversy: "At Southampton, when the stuff was going on around before and after the game, we were so focused on winning that game, and since then we've not let India back into the series," he said.

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