England are contesting the misconduct charges brought against Anderson by the International Cricket Council (ICC) – and the episode is threatening to overshadow the second test which begins at Lord’s on Thursday.
“Jimmy is an outstanding bowler with a fantastic record. It’s probably a tactic by India, if we are being honest,” Cook told reporters.
Asked if India would rather have Anderson out of the England team than in it, Cook said: “Yeah, I think so, I think that’s pretty much where it’s come from.”
Cook, who admitted he did not see the incident, said England were surprised Anderson was charged with a level-three complaint, which is the most serious offence under the ICC code of conduct.
If proved it could lead to a ban of up to four tests.
“We are a bit surprised it’s a level three (offence), to be honest. It’s a bit of a mountain out of a molehill,” added the captain.
“For Jimmy, all the lads are rallying round him. He is a stalwart of our side. He is an outstanding bowler with a fantastic record.
“We can’t let this be a distraction … but at certain times in this test match Jimmy will let his bowling do the talking.”
Cook said he would not be telling Anderson to tone down his natural aggression during the test.
“He is a very competitive guy. Jimmy is up for the game and desperate to do well for England.”
England have made a counter-claim to the ICC against Jadeja but Cook said he hoped the row would not sour relations between the two sides.
“Both (Indian skipper) MS Dhoni and I have a responsibility to control our players, a responsibility to the people watching the game and to the ICC,” said Cook.
Dhoni, whose press conference followed Cook’s, said he wanted the test to be played in the right spirit.
“We want the players to be aggressive and say a few things but at the same time we don’t want the players to cross the boundary (of good behaviour).”
Following criticism of the Trent Bridge pitch for the opening match of the five-test series, Cook said the Lord’s wicket looked good.
“There is a covering of grass but Lord’s wickets are noted as being good wickets,” said Cook. “But because it is not an exact science we will not know (how good it is) until tomorrow. We shall have to wait and see.”
The Trent Bridge draw was England’s ninth test without a win, and another draw or a defeat against India this week would equal a winless streak stretching back to 1992/93. (Reuters)