It wasn't as ugly as the Monkeygate episode, but the James Anderson-Ravindra Jadeja affair is definitely an unwanted episode in cricket that could have been avoided with some common sense. This is exactly how the English fast bowler felt as he revealed in an interview recently. What the whole issue did was unnecessarily bring the controversy into focus, and take some sheen off the on-field play. As things eventually panned out, neither Anderson or Jadeja were found guilty of anything grievous, and the whole controversy was a mountain made out of a mole hill, one that could have been easily avoided.
Ironically, while the Indians were the one who made a huge hue and cry about Jadeja being pushed by Anderson, they were the side who actually ended up suffering more due to the turn of events. As the series progressed, they seemed to focus more on the controversy, and less on the series. And, this reflected in the eventual result. The fact that the verdict in the controversy went against them also did not help their cause. They felt that they were wronged and played like listless performers, who were thrown into the deep end. One wonders if India might be regretting taking the case a bit too far.
As for Anderson, he may have picked up his game as the controversy gained momentum, but as he himself admitted in the interview, dealing with the pushgate issue was the most stressful period in his life. Apart from preparing for the on-field tussle, he also had to get ready for legal battles in relation to the controversy. He clearly was in unfamiliar territory, and although it led to him improving his game on the field, he was candid enough to admit that it is a ordeal he would prefer to have avoided. After all, every cricketer likes to be remembered for his on-field exploits more than anything else.
Even though Anderson came out unscathed from the entire episode, it is definitely a stern lesson for him as well. He may or may not have crossed the line at Trent Bridge, but the fact is that he needs to be careful of such stuff in the near future. Anderson has stated that being aggressive helps him performs better, which clearly means that he will continue to irritate players with his word play. But, it is important that he learns where to draw the line. Beyond a certain stage, aggression is a strict no-no in cricket. The pushgate controversy must teach him that teams wouldn't be shy of going the legal way in case they feel things have gone too far.
Like Anderson, hopefully even Team India would have learnt a harsh lesson from the stern episode. And that is rather clear. They shouldn't be concentrating too much on what is going on off the field. Yes, they have felt let down by the manner in which things panned out during the inquiry. But, it cannot justify the manner in which they underperformed in the last three Tests of the England series. On the contrary, if they felt they were wronged, it should have inspired them to perform even better on the field. That would have been the sign of a strong team, which India clearly weren't.
--By A Cricket Analyst