Tensions are mounting ahead of the second Test at Lord's after the International Cricket Council charged England's James Anderson with allegedly "abusing and pushing" India's Ravindra Jadeja just two days before the match.
The incident is alleged to have happened after the players left the field for lunch on Thursday's second day of last week's drawn first Test in Nottingham when all-rounder Jadeja was batting.
India, cricket's financial powerhouse, and England may be two of the 'Big Three' nations now effectively running the ICC but that relationship is sure to be put under strain in the coming days and weeks.
Indeed, even before the ICC confirmed the charges against Anderson which, if proved, could see the Lancashire seamer banned for up to four Tests, the England and Wales Cricket Board issued a statement of its own saying the bowler had their "total support" and warning they would report Jadeja for breaches of the ICC's code of conduct should the global governing body pursue action against the paceman.
Both Anderson and Jadeja are free to play at Lord's as it is highly unlikely a disciplinary hearing overseen by an ICC judicial commissioner will be underway by the time the match starts on Thursday.
However, Anderson could now miss some part of what is India's first five-Test tour of England for 55 years.
Prior to the ICC announcement, England's biggest specific concern heading into the second Test was the form of captain Alastair Cook.
It is now 25 innings since the left-handed opener scored the last of his England record 25 Test hundreds, during which time he has averaged a lowly 24.
Meanwhile, England haven't won in nine Tests, their worst run for more than 20 years.
Joe Root and Anderson's Test record last-wicket partnership of 198 at Trent Bridge bailed England out after the latest in a long line of top-order collapses.
"I've got to believe the wheel will turn at some stage," said Cook. "I need to start scoring runs at the top of the order for England."
- Kerrigan fears -
England have added Simon Kerrigan to their squad, after part-time off-break bowler Moeen Ali proved expensive in Nottingham, even though left-arm spinner Kerrigan hasn't played Test cricket since conceding 53 runs in eight wicketless overs on his debut against Australia at The Oval last year.
"I fear for Simon Kerrigan," said former England captain Michael Vaughan. "Throwing him out to bowl at Lord's potentially, against an Indian batting line-up that plays spin with its eyes shut, is unfair."
India, by contrast, have a proven Test off-spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin waiting in the wings, even if his away bowling average of nearly 75 against Australia and South Africa is hugely worse than his under 29 on Indian pitches.
At Trent Bridge, it seemed the most likely way Anderson would be sidelined was if he was required to bowl long spells on similarly docile pitches throughout the rest of a series crammed into just 42 days.
"If we end up bowling 60 overs (each) every week then we are not going to get through the five Tests," said Anderson.
Cook added: "We just need a pitch with a bit of life in it."
It was a point echoed by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who said: "When you come to a country you want to play on a wicket that's the speciality of that country...when you come to England you want the wickets to be slightly quicker (than in India)."
After Trent Bridge groundsman Steve Birks apologised for his pitch, attention turned to Mick Hunt, his Lord's counterpart.
Hunt has spent more than 40 years working on the square at the 'home of cricket' and anyone advising him on how to do his job is liable to get a brief reply.
"They (captains and coaches) tell me what they want the pitch to do all the time but I don't listen to a word they say," Hunt once explained in an interview. "I just say, 'okay' and carry on doing exactly what I planned."
Date created : 2014-07-17