Trent Bridge, Day 3: Of Sportsmanship and Spirit Of The Game

Posted: August 1, 2011 by The CouchExpert in Cricket, India in England 2011
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 Goutham Chakravarthi

 1 August 2011

Two remarkable days of Test cricket took a back seat with Vaughan’s supposedly humorous suggestion that Laxman had applied a coat of Vaseline to escape thin edges from detecting on Hot Spot. If that directed all the wrath of Indian supporters towards Vaughan’s twitter feed, the events surrounding Ian Bell run-out threatened to disrupt the entire series.

Ian Bell's run-out that wasn't: the incident that became the talking point of the day

The run-out incident

Spirit of the game is a convenience for some players. Players play by the letter of the law and stick to it and wait for the umpire to put the finger up even after nicking to first slip! Teams appeal for LBW even when they might know that the batsman may have hit it (Harbhajan Singh in India’s first Innings) or when the ball may have pitched outside leg stump. Even fielders sometimes don’t signal boundaries when they know that they were over the boundary while retrieving the ball hoping that camera angles might not be conclusive and they get away with it. Let’s go back to this incident.

Ian Bell, in an interview at the end of the day, did mention that he wasn’t going for the 4th run, but admitted to being naïve on his part to think it was Tea already. But, when asked if he would refrain from repeating it in the future, he only repeated him in being naïve on this instance and would have felt hard done if Indians stuck to their original decision that had him dismissed throughout Tea. But credit to him that he did acknowledge that he was out per the laws of the game and appreciative of his opposition captain and team chose to reverse the decision.

The entire tea session was a soap opera. Shane Warne brought the spirit of the game into discussion and it snowballed from there. Former cricketers were divided in their opinions and a history of such incidents have ensued different decisions from other teams in the past. Let’s look at them:

1. Muttiah Muralitharan in Christchurch (2006-07)

As you will see below, Muralitharan in his haste to congratulate Sangakkara upon completing his hundred, doesn’t wait for the throw to reach the ‘keeper, but turns to congratulate Sangakkara only to have the bails whipped and be given out.

2. Grant Elliott at The Oval (2008)

New Zealand cried foul following this run-out incident where Elliott is given out after colliding with Sidebottom. After the umpires offer Collingwood and England an opportunity to withdraw the appeal, England don’t, resulting in scathing criticism from Vettori and Kiwi players.

3. Collingwood at The Wanderers (2009)

In a bizarre turnaround of events, Collingwood found himself at the receiving end of this run-out against New Zealand in the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa a year later. This time, New Zealand and Vettori withdrew the appeal.

As we can see from the above incidents, India could have stuck to their original decision and the world may not have understood, but would have had no choice but to accept it. As Rahul Dravid put it in his end of day interview, the team would have felt bad had it been one of its own players and they took a unanimous decision to reinstate Ian Bell.

Let’s hope it calls for more honesty from the players for the remainder of this series.

Ian Bell’s Century

Ian Bell looked every inch the supreme player the whole of England touted him to be when he first appeared on the scene. He was decisive in his footwork and delightful in his stroke play. He has been in remarkable form this year and continues to mesmerize opposition with strokes befitting an artist. This has been a hard fought series with England finding that extra when needed – Ian Bell in this innings.

This could well be the innings that finally breaks India’s back in this match and the series and usher a new dawn for England as the no.1 team in the world. England might have found a dominating no.3 in Bell and might want to keep him in that position for he has the game to provide early momentum for England. He is perhaps also their best player of spin and therefore will influence how well England travel in the Indian sub-continent. Increasingly, with Cook, he is becoming their most important batsman for their fortunes in the next few years.

Back-to-back tests telling on Indian bowlers

Praveen Kumar is only into his fifth test match. You can’t fault him if he feels 20 tests old for he has borne the brunt of this attack this English summer. He has shown remarkable ability with the ball and has taken wickets and kept the runs to a trickle. But all the bowling over the last two weeks are telling on him and the rest of the bowlers. With Zaheer breaking down at Lord’s and now Harbhajan rendered redundant with a stomach injury the legs are running out. As well as they may have tried their best, England have had answers this innings and Prior in the evening session ran twos hitting straight to the fielders in the deep.

Prior and England will look to pile on the misery on the fourth morning and inflict scars for the rest of the series. England have broken India’s back. Now, they will look for the kill.

  1. swapna says:

    Very interesting and thought-provoking read.. embellishments from the past leave a lasting impression.. Keep ’em coming!

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