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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Cricket

India tour of England: Controversy adds edge to remaining series
Sanjjeev K Samyal , Hindustan Times
London, July 17, 2014
First Published: 00:35 IST(17/7/2014)
Last Updated: 12:07 IST(31/7/2014)

Attacking the main player is an old trick. Intentionally or unintentionally, India have managed to do just that. James Anderson lends more value to England than his wickets. He provides the X-factor - as spearhead of the bowling attack and shoulders the responsibility of a senior team member.

In the interest of the team, he's always better off without extra attention. Certainly, no one in the England camp will be happy that he will have to play the series against India under intense scrutiny, due to what looks like his own doing.

It's looks silly that he pitched his might against Ravindra Jadeja. For India, it will be like sacrificing a pawn for the knight. Anderson is a colossal figure for England, while Jadeja only a fringe player in his team's scheme of things, especially in these conditions.

Ready replacement
Even if Jadeja gets affected by the controversy, India have a replacement in R Ashwin, in fact even cricketing reasons dictate that Ashwin be played against England's stream of left-handers.

Anderson is a once-in-a-generation type. Numbers too speak of his value - man of the match in the first Test, he was one of the star performers in England's last two series wins over India (at home and away). He is among the few who can claim to have stood their ground against the most-celebrated batsman – Sachin Tendulkar.

How Anderson reacts to the controversy could hold the key to the second Test. And, the result of the series could be determined by the outcome of the ICC's disciplinary hearing.

These incidents are not just about the player, they can affect the team's set-up. In this case, most importantly, it will add to the pressure on skipper Alastair Cook.

Already struggling with his batting form, Cook looks burdened by the demands of captaincy. Now, his work during the series will also involve cricket diplomacy, attending disciplinary hearings, and answering media queries on the subject.

Cook's counterpart, MS Dhoni, faces the same distraction. The difference is the India captain is used to living under scrutiny.

The reaction of the two skippers on the eve of the game was an example. Cook, always on time, came 15 minutes late, and answered with a serious face. Dhoni walked in relaxed, smiling and joking with a journalist. He's been handling controversies for nearly seven years now, including the high-pressure IPL. The controversy has overshadowed the charm of a Lord's Test.


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