'I did something that was right' - Dhoni
Judicial commissioner Gordon Lewis' verdict, and the ICC's response to it, have made it quite clear that India didn't have the evidence to get James Anderson successfully charged under Level 3 of the ICC Code of Conduct, but MS Dhoni - the man instrumental in driving the proceedings - has said he has no regrets about what has transpired. By all accounts, he went against the grain of the law and also pacifying efforts made by the BCCI, ECB and ICC, but had to make do with what many think was an embarrassing result for the Indian team. Dhoni said that he didn't think of the results when he pressed those charges.
"I did something that was right and I stand for what's right and what's wrong," Dhoni said. "If something wrong is happening, I will go against it, irrespective of who is doing it. If one of my players gets fined and if he has not crossed the line I will definitely go and defend him. If he has crosses that line I won't come with him, and he will have to face the consequences alone."
Dhoni conceded the evidence was not satisfactory and that it was time to move on, but a positive side-effect of the whole episode has been that the amount of inane and personal abuse that goes on cricket fields has become public. Dhoni made it clear that his main problem was physical contact in this case, but said cricket needed to sort the problem of abuse out. It has been mentioned in the lead-up to the Test that this is not a children's field and that in Test cricket you have to become tough. Dhoni wasn't entirely of the view that being tough equates to having to go through abuse.
"There are quite a few tournaments where we talk about the spirit of the game, but it is up to each individual to respect that and keep moving forward," Dhoni said. "A lot of time we need to think what really is spirit of the game, and it's very easy. One of our coaches says that whatever you don't want your children to watch on TV and follow it, that is against spirit of the game. Spirit of cricket is not about just the guidelines provided.
"The world has changed, and a lot of emphasis is put on winning games. It is called killer instinct but it has been misinterpreted a lot. Because at the same time we need to realise about MCC guidelines and spirit of game. At times officials are quite generous to individuals when they feel that in the heat of the moment someone has said something. They go ahead because it is a one-off. The kind of competition and pressure that we face today, an individual may neglect it to some extent. But if someone is consistent with his abuse he should be punished. Doesn't matter who he is. Once the umpire goes and tells him we have had enough, foul language should not be used. That's the point where if the individual doesn't curb himself, he needs to be punished. But the way cricket is played it's constantly on the move. We have to monitor it constantly but at the same time it's important that we play strong cricket."
Dhoni again put the emphasis on the umpires to make sure it doesn't get messy. "Strong characters are needed in the game," Dhoni said. "And it doesn't matter whether he is him [Anderson] or any other player in any other side, it can be someone from my side. What needs to be done is for umpires to step in when the individual crosses the line. What matters is that they stay within the guidelines and that's important for the game and the spectators."
Dhoni did point out that David Boon's Level 1 sanction of Ravindra Jadeja didn't quite go well with the side. "That's very interesting," Dhoni said. "Good thing that came out was that Jadeja was fined and as I said there is not even 1% mistake committed from his side. So that's good for us. After that it becomes all about evidence and it's really interesting what David Boon found out on the basis of which he fined 50% of his match fee."
One desired effect of the appeal has been the series has been played in pretty decent spirit after that first Test. When asked if England needed to control Anderson's behaviour, Dhoni said: "No need to control Anderson really. Vast difference between the way he played the first Test and the last couple of Test matches. He only needs to be controlled if something wrong is happening. You don't want everyone to be that one kind of thing because individuals bring character to the side. It's because of the 18-19 players that character of the side is made. Everybody is different in their own way. But there are certain guidelines (which) need to be followed and as long as they are following that it is okay."
Dhoni was gracious enough to put aside the incident when asked about Anderson the bowler, who is primed to become England's most successful bowler in Tests. "Terrific bowler," Dhoni said. "What is good about him is that how he comes up and confuses batsmen and gets his wicket. When we came here on the 2007 tour, he was working on his inswinger and didn't have much control on it. But now if you see, he is a different bowler and uses inswinger as his strength. So overall he is a terrific bowler, and from crowd's perspective this is the kind of bowler you want to see because he keeps on working out the batsmen and bowling aggressively."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo