Monday, August 01, 2011

flying balls at the bell end

You'll all have your own opinions on Bellgate™, I'm sure; for what it's worth I think sanity and what you might call natural justice prevailed - watch the end of pretty much any session in a Test match and you'll see people just grounding their bats and wandering off. Add to that that just about everyone on the ground, including most of the Indian fielders, thought the ball had gone for four, and you have a recipe for a good deal of bad feeling had the appeal and dismissal been allowed to stand.

However, let’s dial down the misty-eyed Spirit of Cricket rhetoric as displayed in this rather pointless ECB press release - yes, all’s well that ends well, but really the Indians shouldn’t have made the appeal in the first place, so the kudos available for belatedly doing the right thing and withdrawing it should be pretty limited, and all the talk of giving Dhoni the Man of the Match award is a load of old flannel (they gave it to Stuart Broad in the end). On the other hand it would have been nice for the authorities to make a brief announcement to the crowd bringing them up to speed with what had happened before the end of the tea interval, thus avoiding the umpires and the Indian team getting a barrage of boos as they came onto the field of play, which later turned to rather shamefaced applause as Bell emerged down the pavilion steps.

That said, Bell was a bit careless and I'm sure he won't be doing that again; it does seem a bit silly that the laws allow for such a farcical situation to occur, though. Really once you've grounded your bat to complete a run you should only be eligible for being run out if you are actively attempting another one. I can see that this still leaves a bit of a grey area ("Attempting a run? No, Mr. Umpire, sir, I was just sprinting up the pitch to have a chat with my batting partner"), and you'd have to think about what the implications were in terms of being able to run someone out for backing up too far, but it might still be an improvement. That would have nipped this incident in the bud before it started, as well as this peculiar incident involving Muttiah Muralitharan in Christchurch a few years back.

I was a bit surprised, though, in all the commentary on the subject during the Sky Sports coverage, that no-one mentioned the almost identical incident and subsequent furore surrounding Tony Greig's run-out of Alvin Kallicharran in Port-of-Spain in 1974. Last ball of a session (last one before the tea interval at Trent Bridge, last one of the day at Port-of-Spain), people wandering off a bit casually, sharp-eyed fielder throws down the stumps, appeals, umpire a bit reluctantly has to adhere to the letter of the law, diplomatic incident and negotiation during the interval, batsman reinstated, honour seen to have been satisfied on all sides. There's even an odd similarity in the scores involved: Bell had 137 at the time and went on, after being reprieved, to make 159, while Kallicharran had 142 when the incident occurred and was dismissed early the next day for 158. Spooky. Except it isn't, really.

I'm certainly not claiming I'm the only person to have spotted the parallel, just that as far as I know none of the Sky or BBC coverage mentioned it. From reading the various accounts it sounds to me as if Kallicharran was a great deal more culpable (and therefore lucky to be reinstated) than Bell; the ball hadn't made it off the square, and he hadn't grounded his bat. Needless to say that wily old fox Geoffrey Boycott is a bit more on the ball history-wise, though in his case he has a bit of an advantage as he was actually playing in the match in question.

No comments: