Monday, August 01, 2011

Dhoni the sucker?

There's been tons written already on Dhoni's decision to withdraw the appeal against Bell. The broad lines of opposition are between those who think he was suckered into it (by far the majority view) and a smaller group who think he did something quite in accordance with a rapidly eroding entity called the 'spirit of the game.' I feel a few things need to kept in mind: firstly, there was an interval looming right after the ball had been played; secondly, there seems to have been a fair amount of confusion amongst many - not all - of the players whether the ball was dead; and thirdly, the umpires too didn't seem terribly certain that it was a clear case of a non-dead ball. Under the circumstances, the Indian team seems to have viewed replays of the incident on TV and concluded that getting Bell out in this fashion would leave them with a bad taste in their mouths. Hence, they collectively agreed to withdraw the appeal. For a group of young men who had spent the best part of the day on a hiding-to-nothing on a really hot day, to so rapidly see this aspect of things and withdraw their appeal speaks greatly of their class and maturity. That almost none of this class and maturity will ever be reciprocated by English teams - now or in the future - is another matter. I think Dhoni and his men should be commended for what they did - it was rare and it was truly classy. 

I was in the stands when Srikkanth was run out by Emburey that morning  a long time ago. Cheeka was making his test debut and a stripling of no more than 20 or 21. Yes, that was his very first test innings. As was his hyperactive wont, he defended a ball into the gully and set off down the pitch to pat down an imaginary bump or two when his stumps were thrown down. The English fielders shamelessly giggled and snickered as they sent the young man on his way. I don't know if Cheeka learned any lessons that day - but I kept thinking there was another way to handle that. I could imagine someone like a Sobers or a Worrell going up to the debutant - after running him out - and saying "we're going to let you off this time, young man- but remember this in the future." That would have been the right thing to do. 

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