Unless you’ve been inside an hermetically sealed box, you will know all about the Bell run out incident on the last ball before tea but just on the off chance that someone reading this had been inside said box (and I’m not referring to Test ground press boxes for once), yesterday saw one enormous talking point as well as some fantastic cricket.
For a full explanation of events, I’d take a look at this report on Cricinfo.
Of course, in the letter of the law Bell was out. In his own words, he was naive. I’d say he made a genuine mistake. He thought it was tea, it was silly but it was a genuine mistake. He certainly wasn’t attempting another run.
The Indian team were well within their rights to remove the bails and appeal to the umpire and by the letter of the law, Bell was out. It was, however, the absolutely right decision that in the spirit of the game he was recalled and returned to bat. In the end, what we saw was a powerful act by MS Dhoni and his team. As pointed out by my boss, George Dobell, in 20 years time, no one will remember the result but they will remember this act.
It was the right thing to do. I can’t begin to imagine what sort of shit storm would have occurred had they not withdrawn their appeal. Some are saying that it would have spiced the series right up and made it even more exciting. I’d rather the actual cricket did that.
If the roles were reversed, I like to think that Strauss would have done exactly the same. Actually, I like to think that Strauss would have withdrawn the appeal whilst they were still on the pitch. I wonder if it hadn’t been the tea break whether the decision would have been reversed. Of course, the situation wouldn’t have arisen exactly like this had it not been tea but you get my point. Having said that, I don’t know for certain that Strauss would have withdrawn the appeal; I hope so but part of me has a niggling doubt. To be fair to Strauss, he has got form – he recalled Angelo Matthews in the Champions Trophy in 2009. Speaking to some Aussie fans on twitter they have a very different view, the consensus being “**** him, he’s out”.
I was actually at Lord’s during day 3 of the Test watching Middlesex v Derbyshire in Division 2 of the County Championship. During and after Tea the talk was of nothing else. We were trying to think what we, as Middlesex supporters and committee members would feel if the situation had arisen in the match we were watching. The consensus was, that of course, in the spirit of cricket, the game we worship, we would have been disappointed in Neil Dexter if he had stuck by the appeal but hand on heart if it was the difference between promotion and not, we weren’t totally sure we wouldn’t have also been angry with him if he had.
As a bowling unit though, surely you want to get the wickets “properly”? I’m sure I would, I’d want to beat the opposition fairly and squarely rather than with some weird anomaly. MS Dhoni was absolutely right – the whole thing just wouldn’t have felt right.
As it happens, Bell went on to score another 22 runs before losing his wicket (again) in the context of how many runs England scored today, not actually that costly although it could have been,
But the important thing is, in cricket we have this thing called the “spirit of cricket”. You don’t hear about the “spirit of football”. It’s what sets cricket apart, it’s an absolutely integral part of our beautiful game and it is written into the laws of our game.
The whole sporting spectrum can learn a lot from the spirit of cricket – let’s hope they do. Yesterday felt like a very important day in both the history of Cricket and sport.
I’m very proud of my sport today.
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