Bell learns lesson after run-out drama
Ian Bell admitted he would have to shoulder some of the blame after being controversially run out before being reinstated as confusion reigned during the tea interval on day three of the second npower Test at Trent Bridge.
The right-hander had arguably played the best innings of his Test career as he reached 137 before he and Eoin Morgan ran three when the latter flicked Ishant Sharma to deep-square leg.
Praveen Kumar managed to avert the boundary with a diving stop and Bell, thinking the session had finished, walked towards Morgan but the ball was thrown to Abhinav Mukund - via captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni - at the striker’s end and he whipped off the bails.
After much deliberation, Bell was given out, but the tourists subsequently opted to withdraw their appeal, having been approached by England team director Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss.
Bell went on to add a further 22 runs to his total as England ended the session in a position of dominance on for 441 for six – a lead of 374 – but the focus of attention was the run-out and the Warwickshire batsman revealed he had been “a bit naive”.
“Morgy’s (Morgan) clipped one off his pads right down to the boundary, I guess the fielder’s dived, it looked like it had gone for four, his body language suggested it had and I touched down for the third run,” said Bell.
“I’d turned round and I think (umpire) Asad (Rauf) had pulled out his jumper and looked like he was walking over towards the bowler to hand his jumper over and my initial reaction, whether it was naive or whatever, was to walk off for tea – I thought that was it.
“I was certainly not attempting a run or anything, it was just a matter of probably being a little bit naive on my part but I thought everything was just meandering towards walking off for tea, straightforward as that.
“It wasn’t until we got to the boundary rope that both of us realised that there was something that had changed.
“The end result and the end decision was probably right for the spirit of the game and I think they’d probably admit that but it was very naive on my behalf just to assume that the ball was dead and just to walk off for tea.
“I think I’ve learnt a lot of lessons, I admit that I was very naive just to walk off for tea and I’ll hopefully never do that again.”
Rahul Dravid thought that Ian Bell was out according to the laws of the game but revealed that India were uneasy with the decision, believing it was against the spirit of cricket.
The veteran, who was off the field at the time of the incident, said India had a meeting after Strauss and Flower had spoken to captain Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher and the players unanimously agreed to reprieve Bell.
“If you look at the laws of the game and adhere to them strictly, then probably he was out,” said Dravid.
“But in the spirit of the game, it didn’t feel right and Dhoni and the team felt at tea-time the right thing to do was to ask him to bat again.
“Once he was out and we came back in for tea, the guys started discussing it and there was a feeling that, while it was out in the laws of the game, it probably wasn’t out in the spirit of the game and you could sense the guys were feeling there was something not right about it.
“Around the same time, Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower came in to meet Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher and I don’t know the details of their conversation but they obviously had a conversation.
“Dhoni then led a team meeting in which the issue was discussed and there was unanimity that we should reinstate Ian Bell because it sort of fell in the grey area and in the spirit of the game, he probably wasn’t out.”
Bell underpinned England’s total, while half-centuries from Kevin Pietersen, Morgan and Matt Prior, who contributed an unbroken stand of 102 for the seventh wicket with Tim Bresnan ensured England finished strongly.
The Warwickshire batsman hoped his contribution would not be undermined by the controversy, adding: “I’ve got to take some blame, I was very naive just to do what I did, to walk off for a tea is a bit stupid but no doubt, it’s one of my best innings I’ve played.
“I really admire this India team, the number one ranked team in the world, some world-class players, not just with the batting, with the bowling and I’ve really enjoyed playing against them.
“It’d be nice if the hundred could be remembered for being a good hundred against a very good team and something that’s helping us set up a Test match.”
Dravid went on to claim that off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was suffering from a stomach muscle problem and bemoaned their injury record on this tour after Zaheer Khan and Gautam Gambhir had been ruled out before the start of this Test.
“Unfortunately, two Tests in a row we’ve been a bowler down. It’s been hard work and I would definitely not fault the efforts or commitment of our bowlers. All three of the quicks: Ishant, Praveen, Sreesanth, tried their best,” said Dravid.
“It’s been hard, it’s been tough on these guys and England bat deep. Whenever we kept taking wickets, you think you're into the tail but the advantage they have in their side at the moment – especially with Bresnan in their team – is that they bat really deep.”