England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 3rd day July 31, 2011

Bell recalled after bizarre run-out

ESPNcricinfo staff

The contentious run-out of Ian Bell at the stroke of tea on the third day, which threatened to erupt into the biggest controversy of the series, was overturned during the break after MS Dhoni withdrew the appeal.

At the stroke of tea, Bell's run-out on 137, after having left the crease before the ball was dead, was on the verge of becoming a major point of dispute between the two sides. During the break, England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower went to the Indian dressing room to ask MS Dhoni if the run-out decision could be overturned. The Indians agreed to withdraw the appeal.

At the resumption after tea, Bell and Eoin Morgan walked out to cheers from a surprised and appreciative crowd, which just a few minutes earlier had booed the two umpires - a small section of the crowd even chanting, the word 'cheat' - and then the Indian team as it made its way out, with Strauss and his men standing on the balcony of their pavilion clapping the Indians onto the field.

It all began when Morgan flicked the last ball of the 66th over, from Ishant Sharma, to deep square leg where Praveen Kumar tumbled over trying to field. The batsmen, having taken the third, appeared to be unsure whether the ball had reached the boundary. Morgan held up his arm to Bell, who jogged halfway down the pitch and then continued walking down. The throw from Praveen eventually came in to Abhinav Mukund, who took off the bails and appealed for a run-out. By that time, Bell had punched gloves with his partner and was heading towards the pavilion.

The umpires checked again with the Indians as to whether they had appealed. When the Indians said they had, the third umpire was asked to establish whether the ball had crossed the boundary. The two batsmen, who had reached the edge of the field, were asked not to leave the ground. It was learnt that during the incident the Indians had been asked three times whether they were sure whether they wanted to persist with the appeal or whether they wanted to change their mind.

There was a delay of eight minutes as the third umpire reviewed the replay and decided that the ball had not crossed the boundary. The decision of "out" flashed up on the screen, and the Indians left the field to heavy booing from the crowd. The Sky TV coverage showed during the incident as well on its nightly news, a clipping of Bell walking towards fourth umpire Tim Robinson and saying what sounded like, "He called over." In his media conference, however Bell said he did not hear any umpire calling 'over.' The Sky TV audio track also has no sound of the umpire calling over. The only time the word "over" is heard on that piece of video tape, comes from Ishant who, after the bails are dislodged, is heard asking in Hindi if the over had ended and whether it was time for tea.

Just over an hour after the incident, an announcement was made on the stadium's public address system, explaining the incident to the full house at Trent Bridge. The crowd heard that after Strauss and Flower asked Dhoni to withdraw the appeal, he went across to his team-mates and sought their view. The team agreed to recall Bell to the crease and the decision was made known to the England camp. The announcement stated that the ECB thanked the Indian team's gesture to withdraw the appeal against Bell and asked the crowd to show its appreciation. Once the announcement ended, applause rang out all around Trent Bridge.

Speaking after the day's play, Bell was appreciative of India's decision to reinstate him, and admitted that it was naive on his part to leave the crease with the ball still in play. "From Praveen's body language, it looked like that had gone for four," Bell told the Star Cricket channel. "Probably naïve on my behalf, but taking into account the spirit of cricket and everything, this was probably the right decision. It wasn't until we [Bell and Morgan] reached the boundary rope, when the umpires asked us to wait, that I knew something was on. It's fantastic the way India have gone about this. The captains and coaches got together, and were asked if the decision would stand. Duncan Fletcher and MS Dhoni went back to discuss it with the team and came back to us, and I got the nod."

Rahul Dravid said the Indian team was in unanimous agreement that the decision had to be reversed. "In the laws of the game, if you follow them strictly, that was out, but it didn't feel right in the spirit of the game," he said. "There was a team discussion during the tea interval, Dhoni and Fletcher convened the meeting, and Dhoni led it. There was a feeling of unanimity that we should reinstate Bell because the spirit of the game was important, and that getting him out in that way would contravened the spirit ... If this had happened to our guys we would not have been happy about it. So all of that was discussed."

There was appreciation from the ECB chief executive David Collier and the ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, both of whom acknowledged the appeal for the run-out was a valid one. "The withdrawal of a valid appeal at the tea interval was made in the spirit of cricket by the India team and demonstrates the true spirit in which the game of cricket should be played and the excellent relationship between the ECB and BCCI," Collier said in a statement. "On behalf of the ECB I wish to express the England and Wales Cricket Board's grateful thanks the BCCI and the India team."

Lorgat said the withdrawal of the appeal showed great maturity on the part of India. "The initial appeal and umpire decision may have been acceptable to the letter of the law, the decision by India captain MS Dhoni and his team - as well as the Team India coaching staff - to withdraw the appeal shows great maturity. To see players and officials uphold the great spirit of cricket, which has underpinned the game for more than a century, is very special."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on August 3, 2011, 1:24 GMT

    I think the incident is like the Hilditch handling the ball incident. Plain stupid - Hilditch was OUT, no recourse, but a sour taste. Bell was OUT, India would of been in their right not to drop the appeal. I know that unless you are in somebody's shoes (Bell), you can never say what they should of done, but I'd like to think if I was in his position - I would of declined to come back out. I don't think it had a direct outcome on the game, but India did drop off afterwords - which suggests more of a mental fragility than anything else. Dhoni deserves credit - even if the way it eventually came to pass has a few questionable twists!

  • stephen on August 2, 2011, 18:13 GMT

    well said Kannan. This is why you have umpires...no four was signalled so you cannot assume that the ball was dead. The game has rules for a reason and quite frankly I don't see any grey area here. I am a nuetral observer of this series and must conclude that Dhoni should NOT have withdrawn the appeal. What if there were overthrows and Bell had a nice head start? Many test matches have been decided by one run.

  • sri on August 2, 2011, 14:45 GMT

    @Marcio I dont think ponting/ Aus team knew laxman was carrying injury. He was injured in previous series and was expected to come fully fit in that series but after playing the game first day (first innings by AUS) he was injured again and hence ponting allowed him a runner. But since they knew ponting wont allow that in second test IND rested laxman. Please dont write rubbish and talk about pontings recent sporting spirit in WC (knicked and waited for UDRS to confirm?)

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    Does anyone else share my feeling that the decision to withdraw the run out appeal against Bell was a forced one? Somehow my gut feeling is that this decision was not "IN THE SPIRIT OF CRICKET" or "FOR THE BETTERMENT OF THE GAME", whatever be the versions of the players, officials or media. I still do not feel that this would have happened if the fielding side was England or Australia. The Indian players also looked a bit more dejected (than usual) at the resumption of play after tea.

  • Mohsin on August 2, 2011, 0:49 GMT

    Absolute idiocy shown by bell which was reciprocated by msd. Der is no question of S.O.T.G out here. Batsmen forgetting rule or just ignoring it is unpardonable. Once batsman crosses boundary ropes how can u recall him. Dis is rule breaking by both teams and the umpire. U dont need to laud msd for upholding the S.O.T.G. Had he been so concernd he wud hav reverted his appeal on the ground itself. It was at strauss nd flowers insistence that he made the decision,that too i think becoz of the seniors in the dressing room. All this was done to keep the ecb happy. Some posters here are comparing this to bhajjis lbw. It is totally different. Bells incident was rare. Bhajjis mode of dismissal hapens every other day for which every nation wants drs.But bccis stupidity cost us dat wicket nd will cost us in both d upcoming tests

  • Ashwin on August 1, 2011, 22:24 GMT


  • Mike on August 1, 2011, 22:00 GMT

    well, all I know is that if sachin or Dravid or laxman was run out in such a way, there would have been riots, the mere fact the injuns recalled him tells u all u need to know FACT !

  • kumar on August 1, 2011, 19:50 GMT

    @GSaagar, this was exactly my question too. Michael Vaughan wantedly accused VVS. This is part of ENG's mind game. Even Ian Botham teased Indians saying "How can India hope to win with deleted side" which he wa trying to put pyschological pressure on Indians and he was afraid that Indians would win second test.

  • Robert on August 1, 2011, 17:58 GMT

    Nothing like the Elliot decision - he tried to get in the fielders way and came off second best. Bell thought the ball had gone for four and was therefore dead. If it wasn't because it was the last ball before tea it would have happened. Anyway, it didn't change the outcome and as a result MSD comes out of the match with credit (which could not be said of Collingwood). Although after what NZ did to Murali I guess they deserved it.

  • Sagar on August 1, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    How does Vaughan knows Hot Spot can be cheated by appling vaseline - tried before? - Why accuse greate player like VVS with no proof. I think John Lever in 80's used vaseline before Vs India.

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