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Friday, August 5, 2011

Why Was Ian Bell Recalled?

There have been innumerable occasions in the history of cricket that a batsman has been out, but has been reprieved by an umpire's error or the leniency of the opposition's appeal. But it has been a long time since I have seen a batsman who has been given out - correctly - under the Laws of Cricket, and yet has been able to resume his innings all thanks to the newly popular term of the "Spirit of Cricket", which apparently can overrule the Laws of the game.

Did anyone else see this? The following link from CricInfo gives an overview of the incident at hand:

In the humble opinion of this highly prestigious column, I would suggest the following is true.

1. Bell doesn't pay attention to the game - in reality, didn't value his wicket highly enough - and he is dismissed. Out. Correctly, in accordance of the Laws of the game. Most sources have claimed that Bell was NOT attempting a further run, but the replay of the batsmen running between the wickets suggests otherwise, as he sets off for a fourth run, then glances to the boundary to see the fieldsman prostrate over the boundary line. Bell assumes, with the lack of haste coming from the fielder and the roar of the crowd, that the ball has reached the boundary, and moves from a jog to a walk toward the dressing room for tea.

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2. At no stage did umpire Asad Rauf signal a boundary had been hit, nor did he verbalise it. At this point it is the batsman's responsibility to either return and make his ground at his end, or enquire with the umpire if it is a four or not. By doing neither of these things, Bell has effectively left himself with no defence in simply walking off the ground. The ball is still "live" and the fielding team has every right to remove the bails and appeal for the wicket to be given out.

3. If India were 'against' the decision having been made, why didn't they change their minds on the field before the tea break? If it hadn't been the last over before tea, they would have HAD to have made that decision before the next batsman arrived at the crease. Highly unlikely that it would have been overturned in that scenario.

4. What the hell are England's captain and coach doing visiting their opponents dressing room during the break to try and convince them to 'reverse their appeal'?! That is surely not on. That to me is coercion at its worst. If India wished to change their decision, they should do it without being seen to do so at the behest of the home country.

5. If you can only have 20 seconds to decide if you use a video referral, the why do you get 15 minutes in the dressing rooms to change your appeal/decision? If it wasn't done on the field, the standing umpires should have held firm and said that the decision could not be reversed.

6. This "Spirit of Cricket" bullshit is just something that gets flung around when it suits certain parties. Ian Bell is quoted:
"Probably naïve on my behalf, but taking into account the spirit of cricket and everything, this was probably the right decision".
Well Ian, you can stick that response straight up your Khyber Pass - it was the right decision for YOU, and YOU were the one who actually did the wrong thing in the first place!

It didn't affect the outcome of this match, but this is just another example of how the tide has turned for English cricket, and that everything is running for them. Can anyone imagine the outcry if Shane Watson had done this (and he's always likely to), and Ricky Ponting had gone to the English dressing room and asked them to change their decision? Not a snowball's hope in hell would they have changed their appeal.
Why should the so-called Spirit of Cricket be over-ruling the laws of the game, and rewarding the stupidity of a player? Ponting spent years as a captain trying to get opposing teams to agree to accept a player's word when it came to disputed catches, something that would have been a true upholding of the Spirit of Cricket. Not once - that's right, NOT ONCE - in all those years did an opponent agree to his request. One wonders just where this particular incident could lead to in the future.
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