England v India, 4th Investec Test, Old Trafford

Cook defends Anderson attitude

George Dobell at Old Trafford

August 6, 2014

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Steven Finn was back among the England squad, Old Trafford, August 4, 2014
Alastair Cook was happy with James Anderson's attitude and welcomed the return of Steven Finn © PA Photos

Alastair Cook defended the attitude of James Anderson and insisted the bowler has no need to change his on-field approach.

Barely a couple of hours after it was confirmed by ICC chief executive Dave Richardson that there would be no further investigation into the alleged incident between Anderson and Ravi Jadeja at Trent Bridge, the England captain reiterated the view that the man he rates as the "best English bowler" he has seen, requires an aggressive on-pitch persona to render him effective at the highest level.

But, after Richardson suggested there was "no place in the game for the use of offensive language," Cook suggested that, as long as the aggressive behaviour was left on the pitch, it should not be seen as a problem.

"We know that every time you pull on the shirt as an England player, or any international side, you are role models for anyone watching," Cook said. "We're all aware of that. We also want to play competitive cricket. We don't want to be too nicey-nicey with everyone saying they're playing in the right spirit. There's always that muddied line.

"We want to play competitive cricket like these three games have been played and I don't think we need to change too much."

Suggesting that Anderson had something of a "split personality," Cook explained that's Anderson on- and off-field personalities were as different as any player he had known.

Cook welcomes Finn return

  • Alastair Cook celebrated Steven Finn's return to the England Test squad and suggested he has a realistic chance of playing at Old Trafford.
  • From being deemed "unselectable" in Australia and then sent home early, Cook expressed his delight that Finn was "getting back to his best" and, on a pitch that is expected to offer more pace and bounce than any other in the series, his extra height could prove an asset that England cannot ignore.
  • "It's great to have him back," Cook said. "From when I last saw him in an England shirt, on that one-day tour, to what he's now delivering for Middlesex and when he briefly bowled during training at Lord's and here these last two days as well, it's just great for English cricket that Finny is getting back to his best.
  • "To add him into the pile of fast bowlers can only be a good thing. He's very different to what we have got: he's a tall bowler who, when he gets it right, bowls at nearly 90mph.
  • "I am pleased for him that he's managed to get back. Obviously it's been a very tough six months for him personally. But he's fought through it and I'll think he'll be a stronger bloke for it. It bodes well for his cricket.
  • "The pitch is quite hard, so he throws his name into selection. But we played well last week and every member of that side deserves to play as well. It's a tough call. You always try to pick the best team but you try to balance that with the continuity effect. The guys in that team don't want to keep looking over their shoulder. Successful sides are built on a bit more stability."

"I've been round for dinner with Jimmy and he doesn't use that language with mum and dad," Cook said. "It's the same as a rugby player. You need to get yourself in the right frame of mind. I'm not sure every rugby player walks down the street wanting to tackle every person he sees. But you have to get yourself in that right mental state for you personally to perform. That's when it's important and that's why he has that slightly split personality."

The difference is that while tackling is a necessity in rugby, swearing is certainly not in cricket. But while Cook admits there may have been moments when Anderson has "overstepped the mark," he is reluctant to ask his key bowler to alter a method that has, on the whole, worked well for him.

"Of course there may have been little bits where he might have overstepped the mark throughout his career," Cook admitted. "But you'd rather be on that line than too passive. He needs that for his bowling and the way he bowled, especially at Southampton, was incredible.

"He is the best English bowler I have seen by quite considerable margins. He's not blessed with absolutely express pace, so to be able to control that ball and find a method like he did in Australia in 2010, where it didn't swing that much, is outstanding.

"I've probably not played with someone who changes so much when they get on to the pitch. But Jimmy is an experienced cricketer and he has found a method that he needs and he has become England's second leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. I'm pretty sure he'll be England's leading wicket-taker very soon and that's an outstanding achievement. He's found his way of doing it.

"Yes, he has a very different personality when he crosses the line. And I don't think anyone should moan about it because what happens on the field should stay on the field and off the field you should be a nice guy.

"Of course, you understand the parameters you have to play within, but I think the way both sides have played this series has been fantastic, apart from that one incident which has been blown up. I thought both sides have been very competitive and played it in the right way and in the right spirit."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by YorkshirePudding on (August 7, 2014, 7:51 GMT)

In regards to the Rugby analogy is not quite right, a better one would be a prop forward walking down the street handing off anyone in their way, which is a frequent occurrence, nor would they square up to someone without cause, but will do on the field.

In the end every fast bowler has had a form of aggression, from Mitch Johnson, who isn't adverse to the use of expletives, so where is the condemnation of that? Where was Georges condemnation of the Australian Tactics in the last Ashes where he was writing about how England should jut get on with it.

Posted by   on (August 7, 2014, 7:04 GMT)

As per Mr. Cook, this is no longer a "Gentlemen's Game". He forgets how India have allowed Bell to play on in the name of the "Spirit of the Game", where is it now?

Posted by vijeshvincent on (August 7, 2014, 6:55 GMT)

same situation...back in that famous Australia tour Aussies prepared green top and included Shaun Tait claiming that he will rip through Indian batsmen...the rest is history...India demolished Tait threat...he took a long leave from the International cricket since he didn't take wickets as expected ...hope, the history will repeat with Fin tooo.....

Posted by Arvind17 on (August 7, 2014, 5:40 GMT)

Banter on the field is fine. Abusing is not. Cook's and the ECB's public backing just seems too bad. I atleast hope they have had a private word with him while publicly backing him. Somehow, their stubbornness reminds me of the way Liverpool backed Suarez in the racism row. It came back to bite them later and they realized the club's image is of far greater importance. BTW, Wasn't this the same team that couldn't tolerate KP? Or were they just jealous?

Personally, I find it pitiable that a player says he plays his best only when he abuses the opposition. I'd take that anyday if a guy comes to me and says he can play better than me only if he abuses me!!

Posted by   on (August 6, 2014, 23:08 GMT)

It's amazing how much two teams can speak off the field ....The best teams in the world don't and shouldn't need to talk so much ...It's the cricket that should be doing the talking....One of the reasons why SA's been in the top 3 teams forever now ...The matter's done and dusted ..Can we have some good test cricket now !!!

Posted by wolf777 on (August 6, 2014, 22:19 GMT)

Play Varun Arron on pacy Old Trafford. Let him lose on English batsmen in Anderson in particular...let's talk aggression now...

Posted by eggyroe on (August 6, 2014, 19:41 GMT)

Excellent that the Captain of England is giving his full support to a proven innocent man,maybe the rest can forget about something that has been part and parcel of Test Match Cricket since Day One and long may it continue.

Posted by   on (August 6, 2014, 19:12 GMT)

Question to Cook. What are we contesting here for. Who could be best at swearing.

Posted by fguy on (August 6, 2014, 18:41 GMT)

i find it funny that so many ppl after the buttler run out incident vs SL said that the biggest problem they had with it was that kids everywhere would start doing the same in playgrounds & it set a bad example. what about seeing their "heroes" constantly abusing? is that ok for kids to imitate

Posted by glen1 on (August 6, 2014, 18:30 GMT)

Cook needs Anderson to do well for him; however, he should not be blinded by that. The aggression shown by Anderson is the kind that is seen when the series heats up, somewhere during the middle phases. Instead, it was seen on day two of the first test match, and one is still searching for reasons?

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