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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Spirit v Laws of the Game

Trent Bridge continues to provide wholesome cricket entertainment.

Last ball before tea on day three, a basic rookie mistake by Ian Bell, who sauntered out of his crease when the ball was live. Fielders did the right thing, run him out and appealed. Umpires did the right thing and declared Bell run out. Scoresheets recorded it as such and cricketsphere went into frenzy!

The twenty minutes of tea, and hours after that, the debates were raging - what should prevail, the laws or the spirit of the game? None of the experts expected India to withdraw the appeal. Yes, that's what India did.

Apparently Dhoni conferred with his team during the tea break, heeding the request of his opposite number Strauss. To the shock of all the fans and the media, Dhoni effectively recalled Bell. Run out for 137, the recalled Bell obliged finally at his individual score of 159.

What if there were no break and the incident happened at the end of another over? There would not have been time to reconsider. The next batsman might have come in and the game would have moved on.

Many views flooded cricketsphere in minutes. Some felt India should never have appealed, others felt India should not have withdrawn the appeal. Spirit versus laws of the game. Dhoni villain or hero. To me the incident showed that India bashing or putting Dhoni on a pedestal are both extreme views.

Cricket has always had its richest controversies in the grey area between the spirit of the game and the laws of game.

Remember Bodyline?

In the course of the match this incident may have little impact. At time of writing this, England looking very strong, having just gone ahead of India by 300 runs, with 4 wickets in hand, and Prior in full flow.
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