31 July 2011
MS Dhoni’s withdrawal of his successful appeal for the wicket of Ian Bell on Sunday in the second Test between England and India at Trent Bridge has been praised by the Indian Government and cricket’s world governing body, the ICC, among others.
But in some areas – notably among Indian cricket fans – the extraordinary decision to allow Bell back to the crease after tea has not gone down so well.
‘Don’t feel like a hero,’ one fan told Dhoni via Twitter after stumps. ‘Your decision can cost India the series and the world No1 Spot.’
Another Indian, in Britain on business but following the Test closely, said: ‘For me, Dhoni is an idiot.’
The drama unfolded at the end of the afternoon session as Bell was given run out after leaving the crease in the belief that tea had been called. Eoin Morgan had just hit a shot that looked like it had reached the fence. It hadn’t. The throw came back in, the bails went off, and Dhoni appealed for the wicket – and got it.
The ICC has confirmed that television umpire Billy Bowden’s decision that Bell was out ‘was the technically correct decision under the letter of the law of the game.’
Cue mayhem, over cucumber sandwiches and a cuppa. England’s captain, Andrew Strauss, and coach, Andy Flower, went to the Indian dressing room and requested that the Indians withdrew their appeal. Dhoni agreed.
Bell came back out, and added 22 runs for 159 as England moved to 441 for 6 at stumps. They have a lead of 374 runs going into Monday’s fourth day of the Test.
India’s sports minister, Ajay Maken, responded to events by tweeting: ‘Proud of you Dhoni! Spirit of game is more important than the result. Win the hearts and you will win the game too! India is proud of you!’
Haroon Lorgat, the chief executive of the ICC, issued a statement saying: ‘Absolute credit must go to Team India, the England team and the match officials – Ranjan Madugalle, Asad Rauf and Marais Erasmus as well as the off-field umpires Billy Bowden and Tim Robinson – for the superb way that they all handled a tricky situation.
‘While the initial appeal and umpire decision may have been acceptable to the letter of the law, the decision by India captain M S Dhoni and his team – as well as the Team India coaching staff – to withdraw the appeal shows great maturity. To see players and officials uphold the great Spirit of cricket, which has underpinned the game for more than a century, is very special.’
While an apparent majority of opinion was that Dhoni was right to do what he did, Shane Warne said: ‘Much as we don’t like to see dismissals like that, Bell made a careless mistake – no doubt.’
Indian fans are certainly not unanimous in thinking it was the right thing to do, with many asking on social networks whether England, in the same situation, would have reciprocated.