Sporting Dhoni gives Bell a second life

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ian Bell


By Kersi Meher-Homji
My hats off to MS Dhoni and the Indian cricket team to avoid another dark chapter in the annals of cricket.
The roller coaster Trent Bridge Test between England and India struck a heavy rock on the stroke of tea yesterday (Sunday). England’s centurion batsman Ian Bell’s carelessness almost resulted in one of the biggest controversies in the game’s history.
By laws of cricket India was correct in appealing for a run-out when Bell was out of his crease. The umpire Asad Rauf had not called “over” for tea break.
Also by the rules of the game, the two umpires, Rauf and Marais Erasmus, were correct in declaring Bell run out because the ball was not dead but alive and kicking.
However, it was the spirit of the game which put me in two minds. Obviously Bell and probably his batting partner Eoin Morgan thought that it was tea time and were returning to the pavilion when the former was declared out run out on a technicality.
Full praises to India’s skipper Dhoni for recalling Bell to resume his splendid innings. And a huge controversy is avoided. But is it? I suspect that the bushfire will burn for a long time.
Yesterday’s Ian Bell incident rings a bell.
A similar incident occurred 37 years ago in the Port-of-Spain Test of February 1974. And the “villain” of the piece was England’s all-rounder, the tall Tony Greig.
It was the first Test of the series between the West Indies and England. England was dismissed for 131 and the home team replied with 392. In between there was an incident similar to Bell’s in yesterday’s Trent Bridge Test.
Off the last ball of the second day of the Port-of-Spain Test, there occurred an extraordinary incident which led to angry crowd reactions followed by a long meeting between the officials of both teams.
This is how it happened.
When West Indian batsman Bernard Julien played the last ball of day-2 down the pitch, Greig picked it up.
Then observing that Alvin Kallicharran was out of the crease, he threw down the stumps and appealed. Kallicharran was declared run out by umpire Sang Hue and the crowd was furious.
After long dialogue and consultations between captains Mike Dennesse (England) and Rohan Kanhai (WI), umpires Sang Hue and R. Gosein and administrators, the appeal was withdrawn.
Greig and England’s manager Carr apologised and peace was restored. Kallicharran resumed his batting, like Bell did last evening.
It was emphasised that umpire Sang Hue was correct in his decision in Port-of-Spain, as was Asad Rauf and Marais Erasmus were correct yesterday.
Kallicharran took his score to 158. Coincidentally, Bell also went on to score 159 on Sunday evening.
India may lose the Trent Bridge Test but they have shown sportsmanship not shown in recent times. Would Ricky Ponting or Steve Waugh or Greg Chappell have done what Dhoni did? I very much doubt it.
Well done India. The spirit of cricket is alive and well. The spectators who booed the Indian team for appealing for the Bell run out deserve to be booed.

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