Not just Australia, India-England cricket rivalry too has history | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Not just Australia, India-England cricket rivalry too has history

India and England have engaged in some tense battles in the last decade both on the field and off it

cricket Updated: Nov 06, 2016 15:01 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
From Vaseline to Jellybeans, From going shirtless to an alleged flare-up, India vs England contests have had plenty of fire.
From Vaseline to Jellybeans, From going shirtless to an alleged flare-up, India vs England contests have had plenty of fire.(AFP)

Among India’s major cricket rivals, Australia have over two decades taken the top spot. They play hard and the two sides have sparred harder in the mental games department as well.

That is a big reason why Alastair Cook’s England, gearing up for a five-Test series with the first match starting in Rajkot on Wednesday, have hardly registered a posturing punch as they go about trying to plan for India’s spin attack of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Amit Mishra.

Australia, over the last two decades, have set off plenty of fires around them. Remember Michael Slater confronting umpire S Venkatraghavan in the Wankhede Test on the 2001 tour, demanding his ‘out’ verdict, after claiming he had caught Rahul Dravid, erroneously as it turned out. He was handed a suspended one-game ban.

And who can forget the ‘Monkeygate’ flare-up on the 2008 tour involving Harbhajan Singh in 2008. It almost led to protesting India’s pull out before the series was completed. Peace prevailed only after the initial charge of racial abuse against Bhajji, which meant a ban, was toned down to use of abusive language and he got away with a fine.

But war of words, and Australia’s sledge-or-nothing attitude of old too spiced up India’s contests against the then world No 1.

Cook and company are in a more contemplative mood, but can fans expect sparks to fly at some point in the series?

England didn’t entirely disappoint in the recent Bangladesh series after Jos Buttler, stand-in skipper for the ODI series, reacted angrily after what he described as over-the-top celebrations by Bangladesh players.

His attack on the home players came after the umpire’s initial ‘not out’ verdict was overturned by the third umpire, which sent Bangladesh on their way to victory in a series they lost 1-2.

The absence of feisty characters in the England ranks like Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen and a mellowed India skipper Virat Kohli raises hope that things will stay calm.

But history suggests there is always potential for fireworks.

Vaseline Row

The first, fat fracas in the England-India Test history happened during the 1976. England won the series 3-1 under Tony Greig alright, but all hell broke loose in the third Test at Chennai.

England swing bowler, John Lever, who had claimed a match-winning haul on debut in Delhi, had used a gauze daubed in Vaseline on his forehead. The umpire brought it to the notice of both captains --- Bishan Singh Bedi was leading India. Lever was reported for ball-tampering after the umpire picked up the discarded gauze from the ground.

Bedi accused England, and Lever, of trying to use illegal means to tamper with the ball and the issue blew into a major controversy. Perhaps, the absence of a horde of TV cameras helped eventually put the lid on the row.

The England camp vehemently denied the allegations, arguing that the Vaseline gauze was only used to channel sweat away from the eyes in the Chennai heat and that it was discarded by the bowler because the Vaseline made it tough to grip the ball.

The explanation didn’t help, with the row entering the annals of cricketing infamy.

Jellybeans row

England wound up Zaheer Khan during the 2007 Trent Bridge Test when their fielders dropped jellybeans near the crease when he was batting. (AFP)

Zaheer Khan’s masterly swing bowling, his leadership and ability to needle the opposition made a huge difference on the 2007 tour of England. India won the second Test in Trent Bridge by seven wickets, clinching the series 1-0.

But England’s attempt to get under Zaheer’s skin blew into a major row. England fielders dropped jellybeans near the crease while Zaheer was batting. The bowler confronted Pietersen, and made a big deal out of it. But England batsmen paid for it as Zaheer, even more determined, took a five-wicket haul in the second innings to help clinch victory.

Shirtless at Wankhede n Lord’s

The 2002 ODI series followed a close Test series, which India won 1-0 but a depleted England held firm in the last two games. With a feisty Andrew Flintoff in their ranks, England proved demonstrative, and how? India went into the sixth and final ODI hoping to seal the series 4-2.

But Flintoff dramatically dismissed the last three batsmen, which included a run out, to seal a five-run win at the Wankhede and square the series. He then took off bare-chested around a stadium stunned into silence waving his shirt.

Skipper Sourav Ganguly responded in kind later in the summer, repeating the shirt-waving act from the Lord’s balcony after a sensational run-chase to win the NatWest series final against England by two wickets. The winning runs, well, came off Flintoff!

Anderson v Jadeja

Call it the sequel to Trent Bridge 2007; or a repeat of the Bhajji-Andrew Symonds ‘Monkeygate’ row in the 2008 Sydney Test. Whatever it was, it soured the 2014 India Test tour of England, where the visitors squandered an early lead to lose 1-3.

It was only the second day of the first Test in Nottingham when an alleged flare-up between England pace spearhead James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja soured the contest.

Anderson was charged by India with pushing Jadeja while the players were headed to the dressing rooms for lunch. The incident was said to have happened on the corridor leading to the dressing rooms. But there was no video evidence available, which in the end turned it into one camp’s word against the other.

First, the BCCI charged Anderson with a level 3 offence, alleging the pacer pushed Jadeja. If guilty, he could have been banned for up to four Tests, and that would have meant the hosts would have been without their pace spearhead for the rest of the series.

The England camp, arguing that Jadeja turned aggressively and Anderson acted in defence, brought forward a level 2 charge against the Indian all-rounder. Jadeja was found guilty for a level 1 offence and fined by match referee David Boon.

With relations soured between both teams, the Anderson case went before a judicial commissioner, who found him not guilty following the hearing held after the third Test in Southampton. His finding was based on a lack of video evidence and impartial testimony. The BCCI pushed for the ICC to go in appeal, but the world body was satisfied with the verdict and decided not to. Jadeja was also found not guilty by the commissioner.