Anderson charge is India 'tactic' - Cook
England's captain Alastair Cook has dismissed allegations made against James Anderson by the Indian team as "a tactic" designed to sideline him in the Investec Test series.
Anderson, the England swing bowler, has been charged with a Level 3 offence under the terms of the ICC's code of conduct following an incident on the second day of the Trent Bridge Test in which he is alleged to have become involved in an off-field altercation with India allrounder Ravindra Jadeja. If the charge is upheld, Anderson could be suspended for anything up to four Tests.
Cook expressed surprise that the exchange had generated such a serious response, describing it as "a big mountain out of a molehill".
Instead, despite admitting he did not see the incident, Cook suggested that India might be exaggerating the seriousness of it in order that Anderson could be forced out of the series.
He also insisted that he would not be asking Anderson to tone down his behaviour and suggested his leading fast bowler was probably at his best when he is emotionally involved in the game.
"It is probably a tactic from India," Cook said. "He is a stalwart of our side and he is an outstanding bowler with a fantastic record."
Asked whether the nub of the incident was India's desire "not to have Anderson in the England team," Cook replied: "Yes, I think so. That's pretty much where this has come from. Hopefully we get the ball swinging and James Anderson will want to let his cricket do the talking."
The problem for Anderson and England is that he has not always been happy to let only his cricket do the talking. Cook admitted that the latest incident could be the result of mounting irritation at Anderson's sledging of opposition batsmen, but added that any charge should be judged solely on the incident at issue.
"We're surprised it has come to this situation," he said. "We're surprised it's a Level 3 incident. It's a big mountain out of a molehill, if I'm being totally honest. But I will sound a bit like Arsene Wenger and say I didn't see it. I genuinely didn't.
"I don't think I'll tell him to tone it down. We have a responsibility as players never to cross the line. In the heat of battle, with emotions up, there have probably been situations in everyone's career where they look back and say 'I wish I hadn't done that.' But I don't think that is the case here.
"I like it when Jimmy is in that battle. I know he is up for it; he is desperate to do well for England and people watching get behind him and see a very competitive guy and I think they enjoy it."
Cook and his India counterpart, MS Dhoni, now find themselves in charge of a potentially fractious Test series. "I hope it won't sour relations," Cook said. "Both MS Dhoni and I have a responsibility as captains to make sure we control our players and not to let that happen. We have a responsibility to people watching and a responsibility under the ICC rules. I think it will make for good viewing."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo