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James Anderson’s aggression shouldn’t be at the cost of respect: Mike Brearley

James Anderson is making the headlines for wrong reasons for quite a few time now © Getty Images
James Anderson is making the headlines for wrong reasons for quite a few time now © Getty Images

London: Aug 13, 2014

As the storm settles down over the spat between Ravindra Jadeja and James Anderson, former England captain Mike Brearley has said that the pacer should be encouraged to harness his aggression but not at the expense of respect. Brearley, writing in his column for ‘The Times‘, said Anderson is not being a role model when he crosses the line of proper respect.

“Earlier in the summer, when the kerfuffle with Ravindra Jadeja was first publicised, an England spokesman said the management back their key bowler to the hilt,” Brearley said. “I would agree about competitiveness a top sportsman needs it [to the hilt]. Such an attitude is a form of respect to the opposition. But what I find lacking in the ‘to the hilt’ support is toughness in the loyalty, a willingness to make and address a distinction between aggression on one hand and contempt on the other. By all means encourage Anderson (and others) to be aggressive; but surely one can, at the same time, confront the boorishness of some of his gestures and language ,” he also added.

The infamous pushgate incident took place as the players were leaving for lunch during the second day of the first Test at Trent Bridge. But the International Cricket Coulcil’s (ICC’s) judicial commission has pronounced Anderson not-guilty, and later the international body also rejected Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI’s) review plea of the verdict.

“The incident between him and Jadeja [which it seems was exaggerated by India] took place not on the field [across the white boundary line] but off it. I wonder if there were two reasons why India became so incensed and litigious: first, they may well have been fed up with Anderson’s demeanour on the field; second, the field, like the stage, is a sacred space in which aggression and competition can within the rules and ethos of the game, be expressed with greater freedom than in the more humdrum, more polite social spaces off the field,” Brearley said.

“So by all means encourage Anderson to harness his aggression, to give full rein to his terrific skill, to honour his own truth, to avoid timidity or ‘nicey-niceness’. But not at the expense of respect and humour,” he signed off.

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