For whom the 'Bell' tolled
If there is an England-India match at Trent Bridge, there has to be some controversy.
For the second straight time, in a Test between the nations at this Nottingham venue, some marvelous cricket on the field was overshadowed by other incidents on it.
In the corresponding Test in 2007, the controversy involved Matt Prior -- with the England stumper allegedly passing a caustic remark at Sachin Tendulkar, followed by the infamous jellybeans incident involving Zaheer Khan.
On this occasion it was about Ian Bell.
Yes, there was this brief incident involving VVS Laxman, with some saying he had applied vaseline on his bat, as a result of which 'Hot Spot' couldn't detect his edge. However, that died a natural death.
The incident involving Bell happened just before tea.
Image: Umpires Marais Erasmus and Asad Rauf await a review on the wicket of England's Bell with the India team
Bell was given out by the third umpire
In the final over before the breather bowled by Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar made a comical attempt at saving the ball off an Eoin Morgan shot. And did so, before losing his balance.
The England batsmen assumed it was a boundary, and the umpire had called tea, and proceeded to the pavilion. The ball was still in play though.
Kumar retrieved the ball, Abhinav Mukund took the bails off and India appealed for a run out. The decision was referred to the third umpire (Billy Bowden) and went in favour of India.
Bell was given out in the last over before lunch. He claimed umpire Asad Rauf had called tea. Replays suggested the umpire had handed Ishant the jumper after the bails were taken off.
To be fair, he had been callous, to say the least.
Image: Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan talk to fourth umpire
Bell made a brilliant 159
In any case, the Indian team walked back to the pavilion to huge boos from the hugely disappointed crowd. Boos continued when they walked back for the final session.
However, as Bell walked back -- with Morgan -- boos turned into applause.
India had withdrawn the appeal and the decision was overturned.
A version that came out later suggested Dhoni initially refused the umpire's request to retract his decision.
However, England coach (Andy Flower) and captain (Andrew Strauss) went into the Indian dressing room at tea and requested the Indian captain to withdraw his appeal.
Dhoni, after consulting his teammates, obliged. He became a hero for his gesture even as the jeers turned into cheers.
The revoking of the bizarre decision was in the best interests of the game and certainly went a long way in upholding its integrity and sportsmanship.
For the record, Bell added 22 runs to his score after being recalled, surpassing 150 runs, before Yuvraj Singh had him caught by Laxman at first slip.
However, the incident completely eclipsed Bell's 159, which was otherwise a resolute innings.
Image: Rahul Dravid shakes hands with Ian Bell
Photographs: Getty Images