Cow Corner

India set to lose Test, win friends

Cow Corner

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Today was
the day that India all but lost the Trent Bridge Test, but won hearts and minds
for a wonderfully sporting decision.

There Ian
Bell was, carefully dismantling the notion that he cannot bat at number three
stroke by brilliant stroke, when he made a misjudgement from the final ball
before tea.

that the fielder in the deep had not been able to stop a boundary, he strolled
down the ground and towards the pavilion like a man who had earned a hot cup of
tea and a lemon slice.

for Bell, he hadn't. The ball had stayed just inside the rope, Praveen Kumar
threw it back in, and India skipper MS Dhoni broke the stumps. Howzat?

Well, it's
technically out as it happens.

Now Cowers
had insisted all afternoon to the rest of the herd that the only way Belly
would get out would be if someone tricked him into thinking it was tea
(honestly), but it was a shock to him - and the players, umpires and crowd
alike - as the decision was given.

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chatted amongst one another. What on earth were India doing appealing in the
first place? Was Bell just being lazy at precisely the wrong moment? Had the
umpires in fact already called an end to the session? And would the words
'Michael Vaughan' and 'Vaseline backlash' ever be seen together again

The crowd
simmered. 20 minutes was long enough for the crowd's confusion to turn into

they hissed at the umpires.

they added, with a few extra 'o's, to the India players, led out by Dhoni.

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what?" was the next reaction, as Bell strode out as if the previous 20
minutes hadn't happened.

But while
the tension in the crowd had been ratcheted up, the dials in the dressing room
had been turned down. Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower had spoken to the India
team, asking if they might consider withdrawing their appeal.

The Indian
dressing room had, we later found out, been discussing the same thing amongst themselves, and the
decision was taken, with the collaboration of the umpires (who were excellent
throughout) to purge the decision from history.

The context
of the game made Dhoni's decision brave and correct. Bell was unbeaten on 137,
and the game was slipping like sand through India's hands.

The tea
break also made the moment of sportsmanship a possibility in the first place.
Without the time to take stock, a new batsman would have walked out, and the
window of opportunity for the gesture would have passed in the blink of an eye.

know a thing or two about these incidents. Paul Collingwood, as one-day captain
in 2008, couldn't stop himself from appealing from a run-out against New
Zealand's Grant Elliott, who was unable to make his ground after crashing into
England bowler Ryan Sidebottom.

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It haunted
Collingwood for some time afterwards, and he resigned later that year from the
captaincy, with that moment still in his mind.

A year
later, new captain Strauss found himself in a similar situation with a
run-out involving Angelo Mathews of Sri Lanka at the Champions Trophy, who
collided into Graham Onions.

recalled Mathews to the crease.

"I had a chance to look at the
replay and the umpires said it was up to me," Strauss said at the time. "It just
didn't look right. I don't think Graham Onions did anything wrong, there was no
malice there. But with Colly being castigated last year, I thought it was the
right thing to do."

For that
reason, Cowers would like to believe that had the boot been on the other foot,
England would also have managed to do the same thing in difficult
circumstances. Whether Strauss and Flower should have petitioned the Indians is
another question altogether.

In the
euphoria of the moment, with Dhoni hailed on Twitter for doing more for
Anglo-Indian relations than most politicians, England powered on.

managed only 22 more runs after his reprieve, but the rest of the team
plundered like pirates at an unguarded port, meaning that by the end of the day
a Test where India had a narrow advantage had been turned around to a game
England were bossing.

The bowling
was almost as generous as Bell's reprieve.

Kumar, who forfeited
20 per cent of his match fee for losing his rag with the umpires earlier in the
Test, was all smiles, chatting away happily even as Matt Prior and Tim Bresnan
heaped misery on the India team.

In a way,
the sad thing about about the magnanimous gesture is that it's one that's
likely to end with India losing the Test.

As former Australia captain Allan
Border might have said, nice guys tend to come last.


TALKING POINT OF THE DAY: There's only one today - What did you think?

might not be able to bat, but I sure can negotiate. We get Bell back, Dhoni
gets a signed copy of my latest book. And a pigeon." SirStraussy on the art of negotiation.
It should be stressed that that's not really Andrew Strauss's Twitter account...

STAT OF THE DAY: 9-1-47-1 - India's woes are in no small part
down to the fact that one part of their four-man attack - one part with more
than 400 Test wickets to his name - was simply not trusted to do his job. Even
Yuvraj Singh bowled more overs than Harbhajan Singh.

SHOT OF THE DAY: Scored two ducks in three innings? Why not mark
your first 50 against India by bringing it up with a six? Eoin Morgan did exactly that, clattering the hapless Harbhajan
straight back over his head.

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