MS Dhoni reportedly prevented the team manager Sunil Dev from exploring a settlement with the managing director of cricket at the ECB, Paul Downton © Getty Images (File Picture)
London: Aug 4, 2014
Indian captain MS Dhoni shot down and consequently prevented the current manager of the touring party in England Sunil Dev from exploring a settlement with the managing director of cricket at the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Paul Downton on the Anderson affair. This has been gathered from a source close to an effort to mediate on the matter.
The issue led to egg being splattered on India’s face in the form of the International Cricket Council’s judicial commissioner Gordon Lewis flatly rejecting the Indian side’s charge that the England fast bowler James Anderson committed a serious Level three offence under the world body’s code of conduct. It was reliably learned that, earlier, the chairman of the ECB approached ICC chairman Narayanaswamy Srinivasan to defuse the conflict and the latter did speak to Dhoni. But this initiative failed, as the Indian skipper was “adamant” about pursuing his claim.
On the day before last month’s second India-England Test match at Lord’s, an amicable solution to the fractious situation was proposed to both the ECB and Dev. The Indian side had accused Anderson of pushing the Indian all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja on the second day of the first Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. The ECB countered this by charging Jadeja of a Level two offence for behaving in a provocative manner towards Anderson.
Significantly, the ECB never denied that an incident had occurred. It, however, described it as a “minor” matter and accused Jadeja of starting the quarrel in the first place. More importantly, an offer of mediation was accepted by both Downton and Dev. It was arranged the two would meet at the ECB office at Lord’s midway through the first session of play on the opening day of the second Test. As the Indians were setting off from their hotel to the ground, though, Dev discussed the matter with Dhoni, who debarred the manager from holding any talks.
It is now disclosed that the agenda for the Downton-Dev talks would have been to examine a six-point formula to resolve the dispute. This consisted of: a) Anderson issuing a suitable statement; b) Jadeja issuing a statement accepting Anderson’s statement; c) the two publicly shaking hands to close the matter; d) the Indian side withdrawing their charge against Anderson; e) the ECB withdrawing their charge against Jadeja; f) the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and ECB issuing a joint statement explaining that the matter had been sorted out in order to uphold the spirit of cricket.
The mediator repeatedly pointed out to both Dev and BCCI’s interim president Shivlal Yadav that the Indian side was likely to lose the case, as there was apparently no independent evidence to support Dhoni’s allegation. It was also conveyed to them that, if anything, there were signed depositions from third party witnesses contradicting Dhoni’s assertion. But such warning fell on deaf ears as Dhoni refused to budge. Prior to start of play on the first day of the third test, a commentator on Sky Sports’ Cricket Writers on TV programme gave a heavy hint to the Indian visitors that the ICC hearing on the Anderson issue “was a quasi-judicial process and Mahendra Dhoni wasn’t a lawyer”. This, too, was ignored.
The rebuff from the ICC’s judicial commissioner does not seem to have taught the BCCI a lesson. They are now harping on an absence of video evidence to substantiate the Indian side’s claim. Critics say Dhoni ought to have made certain video proof existed before hurtling headlong into a collision, which had ended in embarrassment for India, with Anderson being declared “not guilty of breaching the ICC code of conduct”.