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Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!


By Gaurang
August 2 2011

When Indian Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni recalled Ian Bell to continue his innings after he was run out, it was hailed as a victory for the Spirit of Cricket.  But what it was, pure and simple, was a bamboozling by the English Cricket establishment, including especially the English media, which immediately reacted with fury at the perfectly legal action taken by the Indian Captain. 

The way that the English Media, including several former players on air, with the notable exception of one or two, reacted was as if Dhoni had commited an act so unspeakable that he was Satan incarnate.  But if one had even a little bit of perspective, one would have realized that this was hardly such an act.  Back in 1974, in an eerily similar incident, then England Captain, Tony Grieg, ran out the West Indian Alvin Kallicharran when he was ambling off assuming that play had ended for the day, with the ball still live.  Grieg was criticized immediately, but he did not recall Kallicharran till the next day, after urgent overnight discussions indicated that if he didn't a volitile West Indies crowd may resort to violence against the English team.  The English media at the time, made it a point to lay a portion of the blame on Kalli himself, saying it was surprising that a Test player did not know the basic rules of the game.  What is conspicuous by its absence in the present case is a similar criticism of Ian Bell not just by the English media, which can be excused for being one-eyed, but also by the Indian media which as usual showed no knowledge or perspective.  

Nor was this the only such incident.  In 2005 the Pakistani captain Inzamam ul Haq was bemused and befuddled when he was declared run out after Steve Harmison threw viciously at the wickets, while Inzamam was already safely inside the crease.  In his desire to avoid being nailed by the hard throw, he then moved away from the line of the throw and in the process was caught on slow motion replay with his foot centimeters off the ground, though clearly behind the crease when the bails were dislodged.  This was clearly against the Spirit of the Game, but England did not recall him, and instead Inzamam soon became the butt of jokes.  Similarly in 2006 New Zealand ran out Muttiah Muralitharan who spontaneously left the crease to congratulate Kumar Sangakkara upon Sangakkara reaching his century.  Murali innocently thought the ball was dead, when it was not, and the Kiwis promptly appealed and broke a key partnership.  They were technically within the law, but it was not in the right spirit.  So of course the ICC promptly named the Kiwi team as recepients of the ICC's Spirit of Cricket award.

This led Sunil Gavaskar to acidly remark, on air, that now that Dhoni had done what the Kiwis did, India should be in line to receive the ICC's 2011 Spirit of Cricket Award.  And ironically, after recalling Bell, India may actually receive that award and actually be deserving of it, though not in the sense Sunny intended.

But Gavaskar's view was clearly a small minority opinion in the commentary box, where even the notoriously fiesty Sourav Ganguly, pressed the Indian team to have a re-think.  The English press and on air pundits pontificate about how Cricket is a gentleman's game and the Umpires decision is final all the time.  Apparently that did not apply in this situation where the umpire had made the legally correct decision however. 

Thus, when the Indian team entered the ground after Tea, the Nottingham crowd fed by the home press over the break, about the injustice and even wickedness of the Indian Captain's actions, was intensely hostile, booing loudly, assuming that India had conspired to dismiss Bell.  But when the sheepish and dumb Bell re-appeared out of the pavilion the crowd's mood changed and they cheered wildly. 

The Indian team could have fed off the hostility of the crowd and lifted their game, in a one for all, all for one display of teamwork like they did after the Jellybean Incident in 2007.  Instead what followed was a session where the Indians looked like lambs to the slaughter, entering a bloody abattoir called Trent Bridge where gleeful butchers cheered every decapitation and disembowlment.  This was an amazing turnaround from the first day when England had entered the same ground after Tea on a dismal 124 for 8 looking right down the barrels of the Indian guns.

India still have a chance to hold on to their top ranking in Test cricket, if they can somehow turn the tide and win at least one of the remaining two Tests, while not losing either game.  But to do that they will have to dig deep and find some fire in the belly, some intense pride and belief, and some total bloody mindedness, that does not get swayed by the desire to be loved instead of feared, liked instead of respected, which says Spirit of Cricket?  My Foot!

 

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2 Aug, 2011 23:58 Report
Indian Cricket Fever (IP Logged)
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Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
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3 Aug, 2011 08:27 Report
shilpa (IP Logged)
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
to me it showed the desperation of Flower, who urged Strauss to accompany him to the Indian dressing room....to do this charade in the name of "sprit of cricket".

Desperate they became as they sensed that the match wasn't within their grasp then and it could be a turning point....an event that could turn a potential win and defeat......setting them back from their stated and publicized widely #1 objective.

DESPARATE they are to be #1 and wouldn't stop short of anything....is what it tells us

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3 Aug, 2011 10:30 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
^ True Bell should not have been recalled. But to say that decision turned the match etc is OTT. When that incident happened, England were already close to 300 runs ahead. And with the way Prior, Broad, and co have belted our bowling, they still would have ended up with a lead of 400. We would have still lost heavily.



India - World Cup winners 2011!!!
Champions Trophy winners 2013!!!
Congrats to Indian team and all Indian fans!

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3 Aug, 2011 10:40 Report
shilpa (IP Logged)
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
the spirit of cricket was upheld

but I ( and a lot of others sensed) that the spirit of the Indian team was broken...and they were ambling aimlessles after tea...conceding 200 runs in that session and anoher 100 in the hour next morning.

If Bell was gone then and Indian spirit not broken......we could have been chasing only 350.....whihc may have been a diffrent ball game

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3 Aug, 2011 11:10 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Why would the spirit of the Indian team be broken after that Bell run out incident? It's not like the guy edged the ball and was reprieved by umpire. Or even a regular run out.



India - World Cup winners 2011!!!
Champions Trophy winners 2013!!!
Congrats to Indian team and all Indian fans!

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3 Aug, 2011 11:25 Report
shilpa (IP Logged)
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Quote:
Max
Why would the spirit of the Indian team be broken after that Bell run out incident? It's not like the guy edged the ball and was reprieved by umpire. Or even a regular run out.

at the timidity of their captain

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3 Aug, 2011 11:26 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
^ It was a team decision...as mentioned by Dravid and news reports.



India - World Cup winners 2011!!!
Champions Trophy winners 2013!!!
Congrats to Indian team and all Indian fans!

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3 Aug, 2011 11:29 Report
shilpa (IP Logged)
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
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Max
^ It was a team decision...as mentioned by Dravid and news reports.

It was A CAPTAIN'S DECISION, based on team's input.

Buck for decision making stops with the captain.

He was well within the rights to take the right decision even if Dravid and tendulkar were opposed

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3 Aug, 2011 11:35 Report
Max (IP Logged)
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
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shilpa

He was well within the rights to take the right decision even if Dravid and tendulkar were opposed

Are you kidding? There is no chance of opposing Tendulkar in such matters.



India - World Cup winners 2011!!!
Champions Trophy winners 2013!!!
Congrats to Indian team and all Indian fans!

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3 Aug, 2011 12:05 Report
shilpa (IP Logged)
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
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Max
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shilpa

He was well within the rights to take the right decision even if Dravid and tendulkar were opposed

Are you kidding? There is no chance of opposing Tendulkar in such matters.

I agree there is NO CHANCE DHONI can oppose Tendulkar on such matters.
He after all owes his captaincy to Tendulkar......as Pawar-ji revealed the name of Dhoni was proposed by Tendulkar.

after all what is more important?
retaining the captaincy or enforcing the right decision.

However there have been courageous captains in the past that have opposed Tendulkar in the past winking smiley......even declaring when he was in 90s or 190s....



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2011:08:03:12:07:20 by shilpa.

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3 Aug, 2011 12:45 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
I do feel that incident influenced the match, although I believe that England still would have won albeit by a much smaller margin.

Small things can turn a match.

Dhoni was right the first time. He should not have entertained beggars from the opposition or do-gooders from his own.

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3 Aug, 2011 17:02 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
All players in the world are appealing for anything to out opposition player that time no questions in their mind is about Spirit of the game , only thing is win anyhow and any circumstances.
And suddenly situation demands them to behave differently then their mindset changes and lot of other thoughts occupied in the mind other than cricket. Mostly they are not trained to handle such situation and lose the focus in hand.
Same thing happened with Aussies after Sydney Fiasco, everyone wants them to behave properly and obliviously they don’t know what is that mean and they lost the next match at Perth.

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3 Aug, 2011 17:04 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
If India could have restricted the lead to less than 400... we may have had a FIGHT on our hands...

Remember India nearly chased down 430 odd against Brearley's team in 1979....

In the end India may have lost the match... but chasing down less than 400 while surviving 5 sessions... was more doable than the IMPOSSIBLE target India were eventually set...it was UNFORGIVEABLE the number of runs India gave up post Tea...



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2011:08:03:17:11:57 by Birbal.

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3 Aug, 2011 19:08 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
From 254 to 447 in one session...that is really where India lost the game...

It was like a scene from a lynching...the crowd happily baying for blood... while the poor fellows being led to the gallows...

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3 Aug, 2011 19:09 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Quote:
Atul
All players in the world are appealing for anything to out opposition player that time no questions in their mind is about Spirit of the game , only thing is win anyhow and any circumstances.
And suddenly situation demands them to behave differently then their mindset changes and lot of other thoughts occupied in the mind other than cricket. Mostly they are not trained to handle such situation and lose the focus in hand.
Same thing happened with Aussies after Sydney Fiasco, everyone wants them to behave properly and obliviously they don’t know what is that mean and they lost the next match at Perth.

Once again Atul shows he could have made a good psychoanalyst or cricket captain... spot on!

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3 Aug, 2011 19:47 Report
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Thanks Birbal smiling smiley. Not sure about psychoanalyst but I was captain of my college team but could not concentrate on Game part for Engineering ( Story of thousands Indians ) otherwise you would no have heard Bhajjs name winking smiley

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3 Aug, 2011 21:28 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
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Birbal
From 254 to 447 in one session...that is really where India lost the game...

not when they Eng let score 221 from 128/8?? definitely not when we went from 260/4 to 290 a.o.???

blaming the bell decision on India's loss is ridiculous. England scored 150 runs too many. India wud have folded for the same score chasing 300. They could not bat out even day 5 in Lords.

If Aus lost Perth due to this, what happened to SA in the second test they lost in SA? in that case India played well. eh?

England played well and Indian batting and bowling failed..

fans have gone crazy over this loss and blaming it on everything. India was the incapable loser team in that test. Only way out is to accept it, pull up the socks and do well in T3

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3 Aug, 2011 22:55 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Martian, if England were bowled out for 400 or so...India would have had 300 odd to chase...And while it may have been difficult... don't think it would have been impossible...

I agree there were other momments that India also lost the plot... letting England score extra 60-70 runs... for last 2 wickets and not taking a bigger lead that 60 odd after pulling even with England only 4 down... both were important lapses...but the ANNHILATION of India in the post tea session was the worst I've felt about India Test cricket for a long, long time...

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3 Aug, 2011 23:10 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Yes, I agree.
India are the best team, by a wide margin.
You've been hard done by, cheated.
Denied your right, your divine right to be the world's number one team.
If you look closely you can see that Dravid's pads have been tampered with, this is deliberate ploy to get him caught behind when the ball flicks his pads and the cheating, desperate English appeal.
And, as revealed by the England captain, the English are all greasing the edges of their bats, deliberate ploy to deceive hot spot...and cheating Umpires.
India, the world's number one.





Whingers.

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3 Aug, 2011 23:19 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
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Birbal
Martian, if England were bowled out for 400 or so...India would have had 300 odd to chase...And while it may have been difficult... don't think it would have been impossible...

This is the part I'm not comfortable with. Only few batsmen are capable of scoring in the fourth innings under pressure. Dravid, Laxman and to some extent Gambhir. Mukund, Dhoni & the tail can not put 100 runs together on board.
We can not even chase 250 without Dravid/Laxman scoring a 100. When they got out cheaply the match was over. Remember that none of our batsmen played a rash shot. The English earned every wicket. So we could have chased 300/350 is just hyphothetical.

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3 Aug, 2011 23:54 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
"Whingers." - Let's not talk about Andrews Strauss and Andy Flower...

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4 Aug, 2011 02:55 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Miller, the English editor of CI echoes what Birbal has said here,

"MS Dhoni's decision to withdraw India's appeal has since been lauded for the manner in which it upheld the spirit of cricket, and it earned him the Test Match Special Champagne Moment, among other less tangible plaudits. However, it was also the precise moment at which India's challenge in the series was extinguished, and in all probability, their hold on that coveted No.1 slot was surrendered.

Sometimes a team has to "create its own intensity". Those were the precise words that Andrew Strauss used to explain England's miraculous victory in Cardiff at the start of this English season, when 922 punters turned up to watch a wash-out against Sri Lanka, but were instead treated to a 25-over rout. Similarly, in an adverse situation at Trent Bridge, India needed something upon which to galvanise their challenge, and Bell's freak dismissal could have been the catalyst they were looking for. At 254 for 4 with the rock of their revival sawn off, England's lead of 187 suddenly looked less formidable."

Spirit of cricket? Surrender of series..

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4 Aug, 2011 08:20 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
The article says that criticism of Bell has been absent from the English media. I must read the wrong papers in that case, as all the ones I've read have criticised him. But hey, why let the facts get in the way?

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4 Aug, 2011 08:26 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
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Anil
Miller, the English editor of CI echoes what Birbal has said here,
"MS Dhoni's decision to withdraw India's appeal has since been lauded for the manner in which it upheld the spirit of cricket, and it earned him the Test Match Special Champagne Moment, among other less tangible plaudits. At 254 for 4 with the rock of their revival sawn off, England's lead of 187 suddenly looked less formidable."

Spirit of cricket? Surrender of series..

--that that was the moment when the spirit of the team was broken is easily established as observed by many varied and neutral sources.

--from 187 ahead for 4...Eng could have bhndled with a lead of 250 to 300.....an there was a game one....not a given indian vicotry...we all undertsand.

--however why did DHONI DO IT....and that too against the wish of the team?

--I believe he was preparing a digression.....a "something-nice".......a consolation medal for himself that would protect him from the spears and daggers.

--Too clever for his own good or for his team

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4 Aug, 2011 19:17 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Wow...bunch of articles now pouring in... saying Dhoni was duped...

Why was Ganguly and several others on air egging him to have a rethink and recall Bell?

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4 Aug, 2011 21:42 Report
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Atul
Thanks Birbal smiling smiley. Not sure about psychoanalyst but I was captain of my college team but could not concentrate on Game part for Engineering ( Story of thousands Indians ) otherwise you would no have heard Bhajjs name winking smiley

Knew you had to have played competitive cricket at some point... which college did you play for? Was it in Mumbai?

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5 Aug, 2011 18:18 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
I watched this matched live on SKY when this happened - IAN BOTHAM said he would never had recalled a batsman were he the captain.

M HOLDING said the same thing.

This Bell character maade a mental mistake and he was out fair and square.

I would replace "My Foot" in the title to this piece (well written by the way) with "My A$$"

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5 Aug, 2011 18:27 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Birbal it was not in Mumbai was roaming all around Maharashtra due to Dad's touring jobs. But yeah played couple of time at Shivaji park.

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5 Aug, 2011 18:40 Report
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thirdman
I watched this matched live on SKY when this happened - IAN BOTHAM said he would never had recalled a batsman were he the captain.
M HOLDING said the same thing.

This Bell character maade a mental mistake and he was out fair and square.

I would replace "My Foot" in the title to this piece (well written by the way) with "My A$$"

In the USA we get it on STAR network and they had a different team of commentators... Funny thing is that for a while they were showing the Sky commentary team... it seemed so dry and boring...and a bit snide and condescending to India... compared to the STAR team... but in the end seemed like the Dry Condescending Sky team was more in support of Dhoni's decision...than the self-loathing happy talking (That Harsha character really pi$$es me off)... STAR team...

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5 Aug, 2011 19:22 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Harsha has turned into a coconut, hasn't he?

When Ganguly responded to Nasser's constant needling, Harsha yelled out "what is it with you two guys having a go at each other all the time?" Of course he had nothing to say to Nasser, only at Ganguly's mild response.

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5 Aug, 2011 19:51 Report
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Re: Spirit of Cricket? My Foot!
Harsha is a misfit in that he is the only one who hasn't played any significant level of cricket... not even first class...

So I think he has become this busy body... needling and poking kind of guy...

I can see clearly how he worked with Greggy to bring down Ganguly... Greggy must have boosted his ego...and the coconut did his bidding...

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