India great Rahul Dravid said the thought of “what if it was one of our guys?” was behind the recall of Ian Bell after the England batsman’s self-confessed naivety saw him initially run out in bizarre fashion during the second Test at Trent Bridge. Bell, then on 137, was run out off the last ball before tea on Sunday.
Having completed three runs with Eoin Morgan after Praveen Kumar’s misfield, he sprinted off the field believing the ball had gone for four and was consequently “dead.” In fact, it was still “live” and a stunned Bell was eventually given out.
England coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss went to the visitors’ dressing room at tea to ask India, whose coach is former England supremo Duncan Fletcher, if they wanted the appeal to stand and toward the end of the interval, India reinstated Bell.
Bell admitted he was “naive, and a bit stupid,” while Dravid said: “It happens, it’s part of the game.”
“Everyone makes mistakes. We took his word he wasn’t attempting a run and that’s where it stands,” he said. “If the tables were turned, I don’t think our guys would have felt nice about it. That was one of the themes that was being discussed when we came in: ‘What if it was one of our guys?’”
India were lauded by International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat and England counterpart David Collier for their sportsmanship, even though Bell had been given out correctly.
“I hoped they [England] would have done the same thing. Obviously, if you look at the laws and adhere to them strictly, then probably he was out, but just in the spirit of the game it didn’t feel right,” said Dravid, who praised India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s leadership. “Dhoni led a team meeting at tea-time in which the issue was discussed and there was unanimity that we should reinstate Ian Bell because it fell in that gray area and we felt in the spirit of the game he probably wasn’t out.”
Bell was eventually out for 159, caught at slip off left-arm spinner Yuvraj Singh, but by then he had added a further 69 runs in a fourth-wicket stand of 104 with Eoin Morgan.
Bell accepted he could have avoided the entire incident.
“I think I’ve learned a lot of lessons,” Bell said. “I admit, I was very naive. I won’t ever do that again. I’ve got to take some blame. To walk off for tea was very naive, a bit stupid.”
The 29-year-old Warwickshire batsman added: “I think if you’re going to go right down to exactly how the rules stand, then yes, I’m out. It was a completely honest mistake of mine to assume the ball was dead.”
Bell, who said England had erred in not recalling Grant Elliott after the New Zealand batsman was run out after a collision with bowler Ryan Sidebottom during a one-day international at The Oval in 2008, praised the way India dealt with Sunday’s incident.
“The way they handled the situation was fantastic,” Bell said. “It was the right decision for the way we want to play this series and how cricket wants to be played. It’s difficult to say what we would have done out in the middle — would we have gone for the ‘out’ decision? Probably not.”