But you were Out.. Mr.Bell
By Sunil Varma
There is something about the English and their afternoon tea. Mr. Bell was so peevish without his evening tea; he forgot that he had to wait till the ball is officially dead. With his mind set on receiving a well-deserved pat and those Marie biscuits, he got himself run-out in a farcical way. He wandered out of his crease, thinking it is tea time but was stranded midway between his biscuits and the pitch when Praveen Kumar rose from his slumber and sent the ball back to the keeper. After some ado the third empire called Ian Bell out.
Rest of the story is more like a Bollywood drama, a wronged man gets what he deserves because of the good deeds of the another good man. Dhoni comes victorious as the virtuous leader who plays for the spirit of the game rather than to win. He might although have to answer some awkward questions from billion cricket crazy fans back home, if he lost the current test.
Ian Bell deserved to be out, he played sloppy cricket. Is it not in the spirit of the game that he should have said? “Mate, I was sloppy and I got out. Sorry captain (Strauss), but I cannot go back and play. It is bad for the spirit of the game”. He said no such thing but came back running like a kid give a second chance to bat after he got out. Would the English have shown the same philanthropy if it was Dravid on the crease instead of Bell? A little birdie tells me that, they would have shut the dressing room door tight, lest Dhoni might come and ask them to re-consider.
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It made no sense, Paul Collingwood should have recalled the batsman, it was an accident and was complete gamesmanship to uproot the bails when the runner was biting the dust in the middle of the crease because of the bowler.Check Tit For Tat from New Zealand, the irony is Paul was part of this.
The interesting part is this is not the first time something as bizarre has happened. In 1974, in a test between England and West Indies at Port of Spain, the same drama was being played. Ian bell was being played by the charismatic Kalicharan and Praveen Kumar was being played by the now famous commentator Tony Greig. The screen unfolded on the last ball of the second day, of the test. The Batsman Julian Bernard ran the ball the pitch to Tony Grieg and Kalicharan assuming it to be end of day was out of his crease. Not wanting to lose the opportunity Tony knocked the stumps down. The empire called “OUT”.
There was huge outcry from the public very similar to the public outcry at Trent Bridge. After a huge protest from the West Indies and a lot deliberations, between the captains (Rohan Kanhai and Mike Dennesse) and the match officials, English team apologized and recalled Kalicharan, who interestingly went on to score 158 runs. (Ian Bell scored 159)
In 1989 series India vs. Pakistan Wasim Akram got Srikanth on the legs and the umpire called him LBW. Kris being Kris show dissent and was very vocal about it, he contested that he nicked the ball. I was watching that match live and even as kid I found it childish at international cricket. Imran the benevolent, called him back to play, and Wasim got him out the next ball caught behind. Kris was out he should not have been called back either.
There was also another incident again with India and England in 1979, a match being played at Mumbai then Bombay. Gundappa Vishwanath recalled Bob Taylor to the crease after he was given caught behind by the umpire. Taylor went on to make 43 in the first Innings and did not need to bat in the second as England won the match by ten wickets. But the difference in this match was the umpire made a wrong call but in the earlier two incidents the batsmen were genuinely out.I am not sure if it is right to recall a batsman who was callous and got himself out.
These incidents are not uncommon in cricket, but I have not come across similar situations in any other team sport being played at national level. Would it not have been great sportsmanship, if Maradona went ahead and let his little secret about his infamous golden hand world-cup goal to the opposition? I have not come across anything similar in any other sport either. I guess other than cricket the game is played to win, in cricket the game is played for the game itself. (Did that make sense?)
It is not that Cricket is always played in spirit of the game. There are two incidents that I can recall, which went against all accepted norms of sportsmanship and sprit of the game.
The first one is the legendary bodyline series between England and Australia in 1932-33, devised to combat the extraordinary batting skills of Bradman. A bodyline delivery was one where the cricket ball was pitched short so as to rise towards the body of the batsman on the line of the leg stump, in the hope of creating leg-side deflections that could be caught by one of several fielders in the quadrant of the field behind square leg. This was considered by many to be intimidatory and physically threatening, to the point of being unfair in a game once supposed to have gentlemanly traditions, but commercialization of the game has subsequently tended to elevate the principle of ‘win at all costs’ above traditional ideals of sportsmanship. England won the series 4-1
The second one is more recent and it involved ourown Chappell. In 1981 Australia playing against New Zealand in the third match of the five match Benson & Hedges world series cup at MCC, Greg Chappell asked his brother Trevor Chappell to deliver the last ball underarm to prevent New Zealand from scoring a six they need to tie the game. Underarm ball was technically legal like the bodyline ball, but it is totally against the spirit of the game, but Australia won the game.
India lost the match to England, with 30 minutes and a day to spare and a deficit of more than 300 runs. Stanly Ipkiss you were right buddy “nice Guys end last”
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