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

Teams agree right decision was made


England's Sunday centurion Ian Bell admitted to making a "naive" error he hoped he would never repeat after he was - temporarily - run out just before tea. He also mentioned a similar incident in the past, when unusual circumstances had led to the dismissal of an opposition player, although on that occasion England had chosen not to reverse their decision.

Bell was asked whether England would have taken a similar decision to India's, recalling a dismissed batsman, and said: "It's difficult to say. I think the right decision was made. We have been in a position before where something happened in an ODI, and I think we all put our hands up and made the wrong decision."

Bell was referring to an incident during an ODI at The Oval against New Zealand in 2008 when Grant Elliott was out of his ground after being knocked over by the bowler Ryan Sidebottom and was run out. The umpires asked England captain Paul Collingwood whether he wanted to withdraw the appeal and Collingwood had refused.

"I think the right decisions were made today in the spirit of the game," said Bell. "I would've thought that both teams would have done exactly the same. Again its difficult to say what we would have done, if we were out in the middle. Would we have gone for an out decision straight away? I don't know, probably not. But like I said, we just move on and learn a lesson."

India, who spent the tea break discussing whether to recall Bell, also fell back on a previous experience before arriving at their decision. Rahul Dravid said that when the India players came in for tea, "the guys started discussing it and you could sense that there was a feeling that, while it was out in the laws of the game, it probably wasn't out in the spirit of the game. You could sense that the guys were feeling that something was probably not right about it."

Dravid referred to the stumping of VVS Laxman off Shiv Chanderpaul during the Dominica Test on India's recent trip to the Caribbean, saying "a small incident in the West Indies left a little bit of a bitter taste in our stomachs. So if the tables were turned, I don't think our guys would have felt nice about it.

"If it was Laxman there or Sachin [Tendulkar] there, I don't think our guys would have felt nice about it. And that was one of the things discussed when we first came in, what if it was one of our guys? Would we have liked it? And the general feeling was no."

Dravid said that after the England management had approached the India captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher, "Dhoni led a team meeting and the issue was discussed. There was unanimity that we should reinstate Ian Bell as he fell in that grey area and wasn't out in the spirit of the game."

Bell admitted that he was out in the strictest sense of the law. "If you are going to go right down to exactly how the rules stand, then yes I'm out," he said. "It was a completely honest mistake to assume the ball was dead and to walk off for tea. The end result and decision was the right one for the spirit of the game and they probably admit that. It was naive on my behalf to walk off for tea."

The tea break was eventful for both teams inside the historic Trent Bridge pavilion. England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower went to the Indian dressing room to speak to Dhoni and ask India to reconsider their appeal on the grounds that Bell had made an error in judging the situation and had not been attempting a fourth run. Dhoni then said he would discuss the issue with his team and respond.

The India players, meanwhile, had already been studying the video of the incident, and Dravid said the decision to recall Bell was taken, "as the umpires would've been ready to leave".

The England team, Bell said, had also been trying to work out what had happened and were watching replays of the incident. "In the last minute of tea, there were four of us padded up ready to go, just in case," Bell said. "Right at the last minute it was nice to get a knock on the door and have someone tell me to go back out there."

In the media conference, Bell explained his actions, repeatedly used the word 'naive' to describe them. "I guess the fielder's body language suggested it had gone for four. I had sort of come back and touched down for the third run. I turned around and Asad [Rauf] had pulled out his jumper and was heading towards the bowler to hand him his jumper. My initial reaction there, perhaps naive, was to walk off for tea, to say well done to Morgs [Eoin Morgan] and walk off for tea. I was certainly not attempting a run; I just thought that everything was meandering off for tea."

Dravid was asked whether he thought Praveen's body language while fielding the ball on the boundary had suggested he had given up and therefore caused Bell to believe it was four, and therefore tea. Dravid's expression, until then fairly even-tempered, changed for an instant. He said: "If the fielder gives up on the ball, it doesn't mean you immediately assume that it's four runs, no? We can accept the fact that he [Bell] wasn't attempting the run, but you can't blame Praveen Kumar for walking slowly; he can do what he wants. We accept that it was tea time and Bell was looking to go to tea."

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • s on August 2, 2011, 16:34 GMT

    It was Dhoni's Choice to revert the decision or not. It was not necessary for Strauss & Flower to beg for the decision to be reverted. This shows how desperate they were to get into good position in this Test match even though they were doing good at that time.

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2011, 15:14 GMT

    It was Dhoni's choice to revert the decision or not. Strauss was not supposed to go beg to revert the decision as it was completely Bell's fault. Looks how desperate they were to get in a good position in the test match.

  • Kaushil on August 2, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    Besides the VVS Laxman issue against WI, the Indian team knew that whether they decided to withdraw or not to withdraw the appeal would have had little impact on the outcome of the game. Had it been a situation where Bell getting out would have helped India win the test match, the spirit of the game would have probably gone out of the window and the story could have been quite different. This has helped India and MS Dhoni gain some respect not just in England but in India as well and probably make people ignore the performance by India in the series so far. The fact that India would have lost this test match does not change whether Bell was called back or not.

  • Dummy4 on August 2, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    It was definitely a good decision from Team India( In the spirit of game).. We can't say what would have happened had Bell been out... But think of this would some of the other cricketing sides have done this?? A big NO is my answer and the beneficiary here England have proven it in the past... As rightly said by Dravid, One can't assume anything from the body language of the fielders.. I personally feel Bell should have been out.

  • Steve on August 2, 2011, 3:43 GMT

    @fearless69: I was in general agreement with your comments until "Are they jealous coz india are ranking no.1 for so long?". Not all that long Sunshine - India have also not played many tests in their time at No. 1 and are currently being shown up for a lack of depth in this series.

    That being said I do think the correct decision was made and that ALL teams now would do the right thing as they realise the scrutiny they are under.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2011, 21:05 GMT

    All teams go through good times and bad. Just because India is ranked no.1, it doesn't mean they are not going to have ups and downs. Look at the Aussies. Only thing that bothers me is how the fans become fanatics. This is a game, the better team won. Congratulate and enjoy the cricket.

  • kumar on August 1, 2011, 20:52 GMT

    @makeshift, per your answer you also like AUS team, correct?

  • kumar on August 1, 2011, 20:38 GMT

    @Anthony Swann, To put it in simple way "Initially they went as per the rules but later they went as per their heart". Means....Dhoni & Co. appealed as per the rules and they were looking for wickets. But did you see what did Dravid and Dhoni mention? They didn't feel good in doing that. They also gave an example of Laxman's dismissal in WI tour. So they have withdrawn the appeal. Their heart always said that Bell is not out. After all Indians are sentimental guyz.

  • Simon on August 1, 2011, 20:10 GMT

    I'm not sure it proves much to trawl through all of cricket history looking for examples of good/bad behaviour on both sides and then build increasingly shrill cases for all-time national moral superiority based on what you find. Bell was out. If the Indians had upheld their appeal, I'd have been annoyed but had no right to complain. But they recalled him. Which was extremely gracious, and sportsmanlike, and made absolutely no difference to the ultimate outcome of the game. Strauss would probably have done the same thing in Dhoni's situation (see the Angelo Mathews decision). All the stuff about Harbhajan's decision isn't relevant - did Gambhir walk in the first Test when he got off an LBW after Bowden thought he edged it? No. And he'd have been crazy if he had done. That's sport. The Bell incident was a very unusual one - it could have gone either way without anyone having real grounds for argument. They did what they did. And Bell was out 20 runs later in a game ENG won by 300.

  • Dummy4 on August 1, 2011, 19:08 GMT

    good sportsmanship being shown by both India and England i like it

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