WAS DHONI RIGHT IN RECALLING BELL?
Was Dhoni right in recalling and reinstating Bell?
This is one question that is foremost on the minds of every cricket fan. With the Trent Bridge test poised at a very uncomfortable position for India, Ian Bell's controversial run out and the subsequent reversal of his dismissal has become a topic of heated discussions everywhere. From local trains to office cafeterias, I have heard a hundred different opinions on the matter. Whatever said and done in the Spirit of cricket, one question still lingers, was Dhoni right?
First of all, let’s look at what exactly happened. Here is how the events unfolded - It was the last ball of the last over before tea and Eoin Morgan hit an Ishant Sharma delivery to deep square wicket where Praveen Kumar did not cleanly collect the ball. After taking 3 runs, both Bell and Morgan assuming that it was a boundary, left their crease to fist pump each and began walking towards to pavilion. In the meantime Praveen threw the ball to Abhinav Mukund who promptly took the bails off running out Bell. It is important to not that the umpires had not called an over or tea break. The Indians appealed and the matter was referred to the third umpire who confirmed that Bell was indeed out as per the laws of cricket. The team left the field amid loud booing.
What happened in the tea break is best known to the two captains. But as per the account given to us, England captain Strauss and coach flower went over to the Indian dressing room and requested Dhoni to reverse Bell's dismissal. Dhoni, after conferencing with his team mates, agreed to do so and Bell walked in to bat with Morgan after tea. the crowd's booing turned to cheering, and the proverbial Spirit of cricket was upheld.
But it was only the Trent bridge crowd that was cheering. all across India there was outrage at this decision. many felt that the reinstatement was uncalled for, however many others felt that Dhoni had done the right thing and were proud of him. But the question still lingers, was Dhoni justified?
My response to this is very simple, there is no point about Dhoni being right and wrong because he had not done any wrong. if there is anyone who was at fault, it was Bell for being naive and Strauss for pleading with Dhoni. Bell was batting on 137 when it happened, he had already provided a firm foundation for England and they were in a good position. England had other batsmen padded up and nor was he approaching any milestone. So there was no reason whatsoever to reverse the decision which was given in keeping with the laws of the game. Also had it been India in a similar position and say a Yuvraj or Laxman had been out in a similar fashion, would Strauss have agreed? or would Dhoni and Fletcher even plead? I think not. For those whip remember, a controversial run out had taken place in 2008 in a ODI Game between England and New Zealand where Bell had ran out Grant Elliot after bowlers Ryan Sidebottom had deliberately collided with him. The umpires had asked skipper Paul Collingwood to reverse the appeal but he refused point blank. Where had the famed English Spirit of cricket gone at that time?
In conclusion, the run out yesterday was a one off incident which could not be helped. But what could be helped was Strauss’s respect for the match and the game of cricket. in requesting Dhoni to overlook his player’s “genuine” mistake, Strauss has put his integrity to question. I don’t believe that any other captain would have made such a request or that any other captain would have reversed such a decision, including Strauss himself.
I would like to end with another question-
What is more important, the Rules of Cricket or the Spirit of Cricket?