The most successful captain in the history of Indian cricket, MS Dhoni was picked as the winner of the ICC Spirit of Cricket Award of the decade. Dhoni pipped the likes of Kane Williamson, Mahela Jayawardene, Brendon McCullum and others to bag the award for his decision to recall former England batsman Ian Bell following a controversial run out during the India-England Test series in 2011.
The incident took place in the afternoon session on Day 3 of the second Test at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. Bell, batting on 137 hit a shot, and following an assumption that the ball was headed towards the boundary, went up to Eoin Morgan for a chat. While he was doing so, Praveen Kumar threw the ball from the deep and Abhinav Mukund took the bails off.
Bell was controversially given run out for being outside his crease as the tea break was announced and the Indian team went off to a round of boos by the crowd. However, once play resumed in the final session, Bell walked out to bat. It was later revealed by Rahul Dravid that during the tea interval, Dhoni had retracted the appeal, prioritising grace over gamesmanship.
“There was a team discussion during the tea interval, Dhoni and Fletcher convened the meeting, and Dhoni led it. There was a feeling of unanimity that we should reinstate Bell because the spirit of the game was important, and that getting him out in that way would contravene the spirit,” Dravid said.
Bell added another 22 runs before he was out caught in the slips by Yuvraj Singh for 159. Bell admitted that he was naive and ‘a bit stupid’ in the whole incident. “I take some of the blame. To walk off was very naive, a bit stupid. Looking back, it was probably a bit naive on my part to automatically walk off but the right decision has been made for the good of the game,” Bell had said.
“I put my bat down after the third run and it looked like we were just meandering off for tea. Turning around, the umpire took his jumper out and started to walk towards the bowler and it all just looked like it was going towards tea. We were both a bit shocked, we didn’t really realise what had happened until we were halfway off.
“I didn’t know until the last minute that I would be going back out again but the way it’s been handled has been fantastic and in the spirit of the game. I’ve learned a lot of lessons. I won’t ever do that again.”
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