A confrontation between James Anderson and R Ashwin provided a “sour end” to the fourth Test in Mumbai, according to Alastair Cook.
Anderson, England’s last batsman, received quite the welcome party when he walked out to bat in the dying moments of the match. Ashwin, in particular, appeared to have taken exception to his comments on the fourth evening that seemed, at best, grudgingly respectful of Virat Kohli’s dominance, and accompanied him for much of his walk to the middle. While it is unclear exactly what was said, it seems safe to assume Ashwin was not offering his full support. Play was delayed briefly before Kohli and umpire Marais Erasmus stepped in to ensure order was restored.
The England camp felt Anderson’s comments were, in Cook’s words, “blown out of proportion”. But while Cook accepted Ashwin and his team-mates were “sticking up for their captain” he still described the episode as unnecessary and disappointing.
“It was a bit of a sour end really,” Cook said. “It was a disappointing end in terms of how well the spirit between both sides has been played.
“It was clearly in reference to what Jimmy said yesterday which has kind of been blown out of all proportions, which it can do here. He was just stating a fact which if you asked Virat is probably quite true. But yes, it was obviously just sticking up for their captain which I thought was slightly unnecessary.”
Kohli was more relaxed about the incident and confirmed that he had made his peace with Anderson and agreed to “move on”.
“For the first time I was trying to calm things down in the middle at a time when [Anderson] is involved,” he said. “Ashwin wasn’t pleased with what he said in the press, but I didn’t even know about it. So I didn’t know what to make of it. I was laughing about it.
“Ashwin wasn’t too impressed and he let him know, not using any bad words honestly. I think he told him he was pretty disappointed with what he said and it is important to accept defeat as it is. Things like that. Just general, you know how Ashwin is, he is to the point, he can really strike you well and he doesn’t need to say bad words. Later on I told James these things happen and let’s move on.”
While Kohli said he was “not going to sit here and comment about someone else’s faults” he had already expressed his views. Having suggested England’s batsmen lacked “intent” as they battled to save the Test in Visakhapatnam, he told Star Sports after this match that England had played too expansively as they were “not so confident of their defence”.
He may well have a point. Just as Anderson may have had a point about Kohli’s record in England and Parthiv Patel may have had a point about the limitations of England’s spinners and the early struggles of Jos Buttler in the first innings of this game. The way in which these views are expressed, which sometimes seems intended to goad the opposition, is the issue.
But there is history between these teams. India felt England’s behaviour towards them was poor on the tour of 2014 – in particular, the alleged incident between Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja was never satisfactorily resolved from an Indian perspective – and England can feel their proud record against India crumbling by the moment.
Either way, it all seems unnecessary. India have proved themselves the better side. No amount of comment will change the scoreline.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.