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Embarrassment for India as Anderson is not guilty

- Jadeja, too, is in the clear

Ravindra Jadeja and James Anderson after the Lordís Test

Calcutta: James Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja have been found “not guilty of breaching the ICC Code of Conduct” during their alleged altercation at Trent Bridge by judicial commissioner Gordon Lewis at the hearing in Southampton, on Friday.

Anderson will now be available for the final two Tests of the series, which is level at 1-1, including his home match at Old Trafford, beginning Thursday. If Anderson had been guilty he would have faced a ban of at least two Tests.

“The judicial commissioner reached his decisions following a six-hour hearing, which took place via videoconference,” the ICC said in a statement. “Witnesses, including some Indian and English players, provided evidence and were cross-examined by the respective legal counsels.”

Friday’s verdict came as a double blow for the Indians, following their loss in the third Test. The Indian team management had pressed for a Level 3 charge against Anderson, but were unable to prove their case.

England had been quietly confident, with Alastair Cook suggesting that India were using what the ECB described as “a minor incident” to try to destabilise Anderson.

Anderson was facing a Level 3 charge for allegedly abusing and pushing Jadeja during the lunch break on the second day of the first Test at Trent Bridge. The charge had been laid by team manager Sunil Dev and was countered by a Level 2 charge laid by England manager Phil Neale against Jadeja.

Jadeja was alleged to have turned towards Anderson in a threatening manner and had originally been found guilty by Match Referee David Boon at a previous hearing and fined 50 per cent of his match fee. India were allowed to lodge an appeal following “legal submissions”. The appeal was heard on Friday, and Jadeja was found not guilty.

Stuart Broad and Matt Prior gave evidence in favour of Anderson. The question doing the rounds is why a spat could not be resolved over a quiet word and a handshake.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni acknowledged that India were fed up with what they see as Anderson’s attempts to bully opponents with his sledging. Even at the close of play on Wednesday, Anderson exchanged words with Ajinkya Rahane before Rod Tucker, the umpire, intervened.

The ECB and Anderson were represented in the hearings by Nick De Marco while Adam Lewis QC represented Jadeja.

The hearings were also attended by the two team managers, the ECB’s managing director Paul Downton, BCCI’s Sundar Raman and M.V. Sridhar, the ICC’s general manager (cricket), Geoff Allardice, and the ICC’s ethics and regulatory lawyer, Sally Clark.

The verdict will also not go down well with Dhoni, who had been livid after a fine was slapped on Jadeja. “To me, it’s a very hurtful decision. Frankly, I feel a lot of things were neglected in judging the case,” he had said on the eve of the third Test.

“I feel there were a lot of things that were neglected (while giving the verdict). I don’t think there was even a bit of aggression in that and that’s the reason I’m very hurt by the verdict given.”

The atmosphere in Manchester next week is sure to be highly charged.

Ranjan Madugalle, the head match referee who was already due to replace Boon for the last two Tests of the series, will have a tough task in hand. Madugalle is sure to remind Cook and Dhoni of their responsibilities at the routine pre-match meeting on Wednesday.

Despite being cleared, Anderson’s on-field behaviour is sure to come under scrutiny. Peter Moores, the England head coach, was phlegmatic on the eve of the hearing.

“I am not going to start judging Anderson on everything he does and does not do. At the moment we are celebrating the fact that he is bowling his best.

“He plays it hard on the pitch. That is what international sport is. It is what people come to watch, people put everything on the line when they play. Jimmy plays that type of cricket, he is fantastically skilful. What goes on the pitch is tough, hard cricket and I think people enjoy watching that and people enjoy playing against it as well because it is what it says, a Test.”