The news that Ravindra Jadeja has been found guilty of a Level 1 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct for his involvement in the incident with James Anderson at Trent Bridge has left India and the BCCI irate.
But the latest developments on the confrontation should be a concern for both Anderson and the series itself, given the possible outcomes from here.
Facing a Level 2 charge—after England and the ECB had alleged Jadeja approached Anderson in a threatening manner as the teams left the field for lunch in Nottingham on Day 2 of the first Test—the Indian all-rounder had his offence downgraded after a hearing in Southampton on Thursday.
According to ESPN Cricinfo, match referee David Boon announced on Friday that he was "not comfortably satisfied" that Jadeja's involvement in the incident constituted a Level 2 breach, but he did indicate the all-rounder's conduct breached the spirit of the game, seeing him fined 50 percent of his match fee:
Under Article 6.1 of the Code, I had to be comfortably satisfied that the offence had occurred in order to find Mr Jadeja guilty of an offence under Article 2.2.11.
While I was in no doubt that confrontation did occur, and that such conduct was not in the spirit of the game and should not have taken place, I was not comfortably satisfied that this was a Level 2 offence.
Therefore, in exercising my discretion under Article 7.6.5 of the Code and having heard all the evidence, I was comfortably satisfied that Mr Jadeja had committed a Level 1 offence under Article 2.1.8 of the Code.
The BCCI quickly announced its disapproval of the verdict on the board's official website, stating:
The BCCI has taken note of the ICC Match Referee’s decision to find Ravindra Jadeja guilty of a Level 1 ‘Breach of Conduct’ for his involvement in an incident on the second day of the Nottingham Test of the ongoing series between India and England.
The BCCI wishes to make it clear that it is not satisfied with the verdict. The BCCI reserves its right to appeal against the sentence.
The BCCI believes that Mr. Ravindra Jadeja was not at fault, and supports him fully.
How India's governing body plans to appeal the verdict announced by Boon remains unclear, given that penalties on a Level 1 offence are non-appealable, as explained in detail by ESPN Cricinfo.
Yet, that feels like the more trivial aspect of the saga from this point forward.
Anderson, who is facing the more serious allegation of pushing and verbally abusing Jadeja, per the ICC website, will now endure an extremely nervous wait for the outcome of his hearing, scheduled for August 1—the day after the end of the third Test at the Ageas Bowl.
Facing a Level 3 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct, the England fast bowler could miss between two to four Tests or four to eight one-day internationals, depending on which matches come first.
In his decision announced on Friday, Boon indicated he was "in no doubt that confrontation did occur." Such a statement is rather ominous for Anderson and England.
By conceding that an altercation did indeed take place and by finding Jadeja guilty of the lesser offence, logical extension would suggest that Anderson is guilty of punishable conduct to some degree.
While a Level 3 breach would see England's second highest Test wicket-taker of all time face an extended stint on the sidelines, the 31-year-old could receive a one-Test suspension even if his offence were to be reduced to that of a Level 2.
Thus, barring a significant reduction to the severity of the charge, Anderson's place in England's team for the critical fourth Test at Old Trafford—a match that could hold serious consequences for those involved with the home side—looks doubtful.
Additionally, the timing of both the ICC's verdict on Jadeja's charge and the date scheduled for Anderson's hearing raises a prickly situation for the third Test beginning on Sunday.
When the teams take to the field in Southampton, the unresolved nature of the controversy is likely to see lingering tension between the two sides. Given the series of incidents that have transpired when England and India have done battle in recent years, the possibility is there that this tour could get ugly.
Remember India's visit to Australia, as highlighted by Sudatta Mukherjee of Cricket Country, in 2007-08?
Yeah, that ugly.
Only serving to incense the Indians further will be that Jadeja has already copped his whack, while Anderson, who faces the more severe charge of the pair, will take part in a possibly decisive third Test, which he could have potentially missed had his hearing been conducted as quickly as his counterpart's.
Perhaps more concerning, while the small possibility that Anderson could escape punishment remains, the potential for this saga to fracture the relationship between the ECB and the BCCI—two of the three boards dominating cricket's landscape—amid incoherent justice is a remote but not inconceivable outcome.
Jadeja's verdict that was announced on Friday, therefore, raises significant concerns for Anderson, the series and the respective boards.