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