England v India, 2nd npower Test, Trent Bridge, 4th day August 2, 2011

Flower denies double standards over run-out reprieve

ESPNcricinfo staff
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England's coach, Andy Flower, believes his team was right to ask India to rethink their controversial run-out of Ian Bell at Trent Bridge, adding that it would have caused an "international incident" had Sachin Tendulkar been dismissed in a similarly bizarre fashion.

Bell's 159 was the cornerstone of England's revival in the second Test, as they turned a first-innings deficit of 67 into a thumping 319-run victory. However, he might have been sent on his way for 137 on the stroke of tea, when a half-hearted throw from Praveen Kumar the boundary's edge led Abhinav Mukund to remove the bails with Bell already walking back to the pavilion.

Bell conceded he had been "naive" in failing to wait for the umpire to signal the end of the over, but with boos ringing out around the ground, Flower and England's captain, Andrew Strauss, took the decision to visit the Indian dressing room to request a change of heart. Such an approach was at odds with England's attitude during an ODI at The Oval in 2008, when New Zealand's Grant Elliott was run out after colliding with Ryan Sidebottom. Flower, however, said that those who criticised England's actions on this occasion were guilty of "double standards".

"We didn't think sitting in our changing room and fuming quietly to ourselves was going to do any good," Flower told reporters at Trent Bridge. "We thought communicating like that would be the way to go. We felt that Bell wasn't attempting to take a run and therefore we wanted to ask the Indian side to reconsider their appeal."

Dhoni was asked three times by the umpires whether he was happy for the appeal to go ahead, and though he later suggested that he had changed his mind before England's intervention, it has since been claimed that Tendulkar was the instigator of the retraction.

Perhaps India were mindful of the potential for controversy had Bell remained out. During England's 1974 tour of the Caribbean, Tony Greig ran out Alvin Kallicharran in the final over of the day, only for the batsman to be reinstated overnight at the behest of the British high commissioner, after angry spectators had stormed the ground and laid siege to the pavilion.

"I'm not convinced there wouldn't have been uproar," said Flower of such a scenario. "If an England side had done that in Mumbai [against Tendulkar], I think there would have been a proper international incident on the cards. I don't think that's being overly dramatic. We've seen similar things happen before. In evaluating the situation, I don't think you should have double standards."

England's crushing victory has left them needing just one more victory, or back-to-back draws, in the final two matches of the series to be crowned the No. 1 Test side. Flower refused to think that far ahead, though, and reiterated that the series had not even been won yet, let alone by any title-clinching margin.

"I would like to emphasise right now that we're ahead in the series but we're only halfway through the series," he said. "So there is no point in triumphalism, we don't even know if we're going to win the series yet. At the forefront of our minds right now should be resting and recuperating after the back-to-back Tests and then getting our minds and bodies ready for the next challenge at Edgbaston. It's actually not only pointless looking further ahead than that, it's dangerous."

With the Edgbaston Test starting on August 10, England have a week to determine the fitness of Jonathan Trott. Flower said he was "still in a bit of discomfort and nowhere near 100% yet" after landing heavily on his shoulder while fielding during the second Test. Trott's possible replacement is the uncapped Leicestershire batsman, James Taylor, who stole a march on Ravi Bopara by making 76 for England Lions against Sri Lanka A in Scarborough on Tuesday. However, there may yet be the temptation to play five bowlers, given that Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan both racked up more than 100 runs in Nottingham.

The expected return to fitness of Chris Tremlett means that Bresnan may yet have to make way. "If we keep with three seamers and a spinner, it will be a difficult call to make," said Flower. "We need to see conditions first but our four seamers are all performing exceptionally well. Bresnan, Tremlett, [Jimmy] Anderson and [Stuart] Broad are battling for the top spots in a very healthy way. That sort of competition is a great thing for English cricket."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • circit on August 5, 2011, 23:57 GMT

    @Barnesy - And the rule also says that the batsman has to be in the crease till the umpire calls it an over. Bell was outisde his crease before the umpire called it an over.

  • Barnesy4444 on August 5, 2011, 15:23 GMT

    If I remember correctly the law states that a batsman can only be given run out if he is attempting a run. As he wasn't attempting a run he shouldn't have been given out.

  • circit on August 5, 2011, 1:54 GMT

    Very well said VAS4...From the start you see a sign of Legend in player....Legends are born legends...they do not evolve over time.

  • Iddo555 on August 4, 2011, 22:58 GMT

    @vas4, Bell is a player on the rise and tendulkar is a player on the way out. Who knows, in 10 nyears time Bell might have 12000 runs and be considered a legend. Bell is still a young man 25-26, give him time.

    Tendulkar has been a fantastic player but his time is coming to an end, he still shows moments of brilliance but they are becoming less and less.

    What's more important is that England don't fear him, i'm pretty sure they would prefer to get dravid out early than tendulkar because they feel he is a better player at this moment in time

  • VAS4 on August 4, 2011, 19:58 GMT

    Tendulkar and Bell are of different standards to start with anyway. Tendulkar is LEGENDARY, and Bell is ORDINARY.

  • dummy4fb on August 4, 2011, 19:51 GMT

    So suddenly this Indian team is the standard bearer for the true spirit of the game, and yet :

    1) They very publicly questioned umpiring decisions in the recent West Indies tour , this has always been taboo, 2) They have resisted technology which has proven to result in better decisions , this despite every other test playing nation being in favour. 3) Dhoni did retract the appeal but only after 3 times refusing to do so when asked by the umpires who clearly felt uneasy about giving Bell out. Its about time some of you showed some dignity and stopped making excuses and putting up smokescreens , you are getting beaten by a far superior side so just grin and bear it as us long suffering England fans have done often enough in the past.

  • som_deb on August 4, 2011, 19:05 GMT

    Mr Flower plz see the replay of Tendulkar dismissal against Pakistan in Eden Garden before commenting. Sachin collided with Shoib Akhtar while completing a run and got run out. Akram didnot withdraw the appeal and Tendulkar was out much to the chagrin of Eden crowd.If Pakistan can do that in front of the massive Eden crowd and that too to Indian favorite idol Sachin, then India could have very well stuck to their appeal. In that case Sachin was not at fault and Spirit of the Game came into picture. Here Bell is clearly at fault and should have been out. Although Bell added 22 more runs, Morgan scored heavily before Bell got out and whole tempo switched to England. 187 runs were scored in that session because the full competitive tempo of Test cricket was forfeited by Strauss and Flower begging. I am totally disgusted by the whole episode and solely blame naive Bell and unrelenting Flower/Strauss. I challenge any ardent English fan to say that even one sentence of mine is incorrect.

  • dummy4fb on August 4, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    @salazar555 - No doubt that Bell played better than Tendulkar in the first 2 tests. It's but obvious that no player will be in prime form all the time. But you just can't compare the two players. They do not belong in the same league. You should know that!

  • kumarcoolbuddy on August 4, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    @chad_reid, Andy Flower itself doesn't remember that Sachin was given run-out in a match with Pakistan after collided with bowler. So no wonder u don't remember that but atleast use some sense while commenting instead of supporting Andy blindly while so many people are supporting good. Isn't it very clear that Andy is trying put Indians down by blaming them in return?

  • Ekkanath on August 4, 2011, 18:52 GMT

    Fowlers comments are very hypothetical. What India did was right and what England manager and captain did were wrong. Bell should have given himself out in the first ball and maintained the dignity of the game.

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