Anderson has defended the use of sledging in cricket, claiming it is a legitimate tactic that is good for the game.
The England bowler was speaking in the wake of the latest incident involving Australia’s David Warner, whose confrontation with Rohit Sharma of India during Sunday’s Tri-Series game in Melbourne has sparked a furious debate about the rights and wrongs of on-field aggression.
The Australia opener was branded a “thug” by Martin Crowe following that clash, with the former New Zealand captain voicing fears that over-the-top sledging could lead to physical violence during the forthcoming World Cup.
Warner, who was fined 50% of his match fee by the International Cricket Council for his verbal volley at Sharma – during which he told the Indian to “Speak English” – was defended by his team-mate Brad Haddin ahead of Friday’s Tri-Series match against England in Hobart, the wicketkeeper backing the sentiments of Darren Lehmann, his coach, that Australia would not change their in-your-face approach.
Lehmann, speaking this week, admitted his side would always “teeter” pretty close to the line of acceptability in terms of on-field aggression.
Anderson knows only too well how close Lehmann’s team stray towards that, the 32-year-old having been told by Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, to “get ready for a broken fucking arm” when he faced up to Mitchell Johnson during the first Test of the last Ashes series at Brisbane.
However, the Lancastrian, who returned from a knee injury to take four wickets against India during England’s nine-wicket win at the Gabba on Tuesday, is no angel either, having been hauled before the ICC last summer after being accused of abusing India’s Ravindra Jadeja during the Trent Bridge Test.
Anderson was eventually cleared, but his position at the centre of two of the game’s biggest sledging controversies in recent years makes him well placed to comment on the issue. “I don’t think it is any different or there are any more verbals than there has been in the history of cricket,” he said. “There is just more of a spotlight on it at the minute with the stump mics and more cameras.
“I think it is good for the game to have a bit of niggle, but there is a line that you can’t cross and you’ve just got to do it with a bit of intelligence.”
He added: “We’re aware of the cameras and the microphones and we know that if we do cross the line the umpires are going to come down on us and we’ll get fined. But inevitably it is a part of the game and it has happened for over 100 years so it isn’t just going to disappear, you just have to be a bit smart about it with the focus on it.
“I don’t think it should disappear from the game, I think it’s quite entertaining when it’s done in the right manner.”
Crowe has called for the introduction of yellow and red cards in cricket to punish bad behaviour. But Anderson is not keen on the idea, insisting the existing penalties of fines and bans are more appropriate. “It is down to the ICC and the umpires to sort out the punishments but I think we’re all aware of them whether it is a fine or a ban and we don’t want either,” he said.
Haddin echoed Anderson’s sentiments as he defended Warner, who was chastised on Tuesday by James Sutherland, the chief executive of Cricket Australia. “We know the brand of cricket we want to play and Davey’s no different to all of us,” Haddin said. “Every Australian team I’ve played in respects the game of cricket and respects the opposition. We’re pretty comfortable with the way we’re playing.”
It is no surprise Australia, with two wins from two in the Tri-Series and already qualified for the final, are happy with the way they are playing. It means they are able to rest Warner and has mitigated the blow of losing the captain, George Bailey, the Tasmanian denied the opportunity to lead Australia in front of his home crowd after being banned for slow over-rate offences, and Mitchell Johnson, who is missing this match for personal reasons.
The absence of Warner and Bailey has led Australia to call up Cameron White, who is expected to open the batting in his first one-day international for 21 months, and Shaun Marsh. The pair will have an incentive to perform given they are battling for a theoretical place in Australia’s World Cup squad should Clarke not recover from the knee operation he had in December by the 21 February deadline he has been set by Cricket Australia.
Steve Smith, who stood in as captain for the final three Tests of the recent series against India, will lea