Should Dhoni have let Bell off after the run out?

Last updated on Aug 2, 2011

Posted on Aug 2, 2011

On the third day of the just concluded second Test when the match star Ian Bell walked off the crease right after after completing the third run off a shot by Eoin Morgan on the final ball before the tea break.  He thought that the ball had crossed the boundary.  However, Praveen Kumar stopped the ball with a dive and threw the ball back to the striker’s end to Abhinav Mukund who took off the bails.

The Indians appealed and the batsman was given out after replays showed that the ball had not crossed the boundary.  Indian captain Dhoni withdrew his appeal for the run out and allowed Bell to bat again.  In the final analysis, that proved crucial in the match.  England finally won the match by 319 runs.  Maybe, the way the Indian batsmen played after all, it may not have been such a big factor in the end.

The veteran England players’ reaction is that Bell was out and Dhoni’s magnanimous gesture was wrong.

Former England Captain Michael Vaughan says:

Bell was dozy and he knew it. He saw Praveen Kumar’s reaction on the boundary and thought it had gone for four. He even appeared to give the indication that it had gone for four to Eoin Morgan.  But crucially the umpire had said nothing. He did not call four and he did not call tea. When the bails were taken off and Bell turned round to see what was happening he knew he had made a mistake.  It was then that he actually played the situation very well. He knew he had messed up but outwardly gave a very cool impression of not really knowing what all the fuss was about.
The England players were telling him to come off the field quickly and he did his best to get back to the pavilion. When he was given out Bell would have been blaming everyone but himself.
Everyone was a bit scrambled after tea. The day will always be remembered for the run out of Bell and it certainly ended up affecting India more than England. You could tell the booing by the crowd rattled them.  During a Test in India in 2002 I was given out handled the ball. I was equally dozy. But in those situations you put on an act. You try to cause a storm to divert attention.  I went back into the dressing room in Bangalore and argued with everyone and said India were out of order appealing for that.
After an hour of stewing I knew I had been completely dumb and dozy. But I think Bell acted quite well. If there had been a thousand people in the ground and this a less important game he would have been given out and not reinstated. But because of this series the Indians realised it would have been a mistake not to reinstate him.
Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower must have gone to Dhoni and asked if he was willing to overturn the decision. I would have said ‘no he is out’. But once you gauge the reaction of the crowd and everything starts to sink in things change.  Dhoni would not have wanted to be tarnished as being the kind of captain who does not play cricket in the spirit of the game. That is the one thing no player wants on his record. It was the right decision but Bell was in the wrong.

Meanwhile another former England Captain and great all-rounder Ian Botham wrote in The Mirror:

Having been legitimately run out by the Indians with his mind on a huge round of applause and a cup of tea he had no right to expect to be batting after the break. He was out. I can understand why MS Dhoni withdrew his appeal and decided to go along with the spirit of the game, but I would have had no problem if he had upheld it and sent a message about dopey cricket.
If it was me I’d have run him out and let him think long and hard about remaining in his crease until the ball is dead… It’s an arena for big boys. The game should be played fair but it should be played hard and if you don’t know the laws then find them out quickly because it is no place to wander about with your head in the clouds.

The Indian fans are obviously disappointed and feel cheated.  Game is for winning and not to give away when the other team is clearly playing mind games by showing your magnanimity when someone has clearly acted idiotic.

What do you think?  Was Dhoni correct in letting Bell off?

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