Caught in the middle of England's embarrassing jelly bean incident at Trent Bridge, opener Alastair Cook has spoken out in defence of himself and his team-mates, saying that the criticism on England's conduct was rather unfair.
On the third day of the Test, Zaheer Khan was seen brandishing his bat towards Kevin Pietersen when he spotted jelly beans on the pitch, which he suspected was placed there to distract him. Cook was fielding at close proximity to Zaheer at short-leg but he vented his ire at Pietersen and in the end of the game had the last laugh as he bagged a match-winning five wicket haul. Reports claimed that Cook was the main perpetrator, but he vehemently denied that in his column for the Daily Telegraph.
"I am also disappointed to find myself accused in some quarters - including this very paper - of supplying the offending sweets, particularly as I am a fruit pastille man myself," Cook wrote. "I like it when two teams go hard at each other and put everything into the contest. And I don't think anyone has overstepped the mark over the past five days."
The saga refused to die down after the Test when Michael Vaughan, the captain, had to field a barrage of questions on the same topic. Both Vaughan and Cook concurred that the incident was unnecessarily blown out of proportion and that it had upstaged an absorbing Test.
"I have to say I am disappointed by the way the great jelly bean saga has been blown up out of all proportion," Cook said. "It has ended up overshadowing a hard-fought Test match, in which both teams played some excellent cricket, and the suggestion that it could have affected the final result is quite ridiculous."
Reflecting on his personal form with the bat, Cook said that he was working on rectifying his technique after falling lbw in each of his four innings.
"Over the next ten days I will be having a bit of downtime and then getting in the nets with Andy Flower and Graham Gooch, my old Essex comrades, to work on a few things with the bowling machine," he said. "I hope that we will see some improvement, and that I can get rid of this lbw jinx in time to make a major contribution."