'It was good Jadeja did not retaliate' - Dhoni
Fifteen minutes after Alastair Cook suggested India were being cheeky in making an official complaint against James Anderson, trying to eliminate their best bowler from the series, MS Dhoni sought to bring attention back to who the victim - so to speak - was. India are known to sidestep these issues and omit to discuss them in press conferences by either banning such questions or putting up a player who is farthest from the events, but this time Dhoni himself addressed the pre-match press conference. He has been known to miss press conferences over lesser controversies.
Dhoni spent the first half of the press conference trying to laugh off questions and repeatedly citing legal requirements to not speak about the incident in detail, but when told of Cook's insinuation, he opened up a little bit. "It's not something that we have done," Dhoni said, showing the first signs of stress. "Let's realise the fact. Like in a press conference you can ask me tough questions. I have the right to answer them or not to answer them, but in no way can I go and touch you. Or you can come and touch me. You can put it in whatever way you want to but there are certain things that need to be followed, and it should be followed."
Dhoni wouldn't talk about the specifics of what happened and where it happened, but made sure he mentioned Ravindra Jadeja was touched, in a manner serious enough for India to consider these charges, and that Jadeja did not instigate Anderson. The ICC's release said the incident happened on the second day of the Trent Bridge Test when the players were walking back for lunch. Dhoni and Jadeja were the unbeaten batsmen, and Anderson had been quite vocal after an appeal was turned down on the first ball of the last over before lunch.
Dhoni appreciated how Jadeja handled the incident, not losing his cool and becoming a victim of what he says has in the past been the opposition's ploy to unsettle their players. "The good thing is it is not something that has happened for the first time," Dhoni said. "It is a constant thing that keeps happening. Frankly, usually, we have been on the receiving end a lot of times where somebody starts something and we retaliate and we get fined or different kinds of offences are levelled against us.
"It was good on Jadeja's part to not really do something. It could have gone a bit far, but I felt he addressed this in the most appropriate manner. That's something we will have to learn and move forward. Someone has to back off at the right time. At the end of the day we play sport and lot of people look up to us, and there is a lot of responsibility on us."
Dhoni insisted on following the guidelines that bar physical contact. "We talk a lot about the spirit of cricket and everything, and there are guidelines that need to be followed," Dhoni said. "There have been a few individuals from our side too in the past that have crossed the line. It's a very difficult one. You can be aggressive, you can be vocal, but there are certain guidelines that are laid out, and we should follow that."
Dhoni was asked what it would do to the relationship between the players of the two sides, and if he feared the series could take an ugly turn. "I am not worried about that," Dhoni said. "Definitely I would like to make sure the remainder of the series is played in the right spirit, but at the same time it is not docile. We want players to be aggressive, say a few things, but at the same time it is very important to not flow with it and cross the boundaries. I think it is our responsibility to play the game in the right spirit. We will try our best to maintain that."
There has been a suggestion that given the ICC reforms that have put the BCCI and the ECB in close partnership, there had been deliberations to resolve this matter without an official complaint, and that it was Dhoni who insisted otherwise. When asked to comment on the speculation, Dhoni said, "Let's talk about the Test match. We are playing at Lord's, and we all know the importance of Lord's."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo