On the Front Foot: Teatime Bell was saved by calm authority of Dravid


The hero of the hour at Trent Bridge, as he has been the hero of so many hours, was Rahul Dravid. Without his intervention, India's tour of England may, at worst, have been abandoned and, at best, descended into endless acrimony which would have affected future relations between the two countries.

Dravid, it is gradually emerging, was the prime mover in ensuring the England batsman Ian Bell was reinstated after rightly being given run out for 137 in the Second Test. Without his quiet insistence and the profound respect in which he is held, the dismissal would have stood and India would have been subjected to perpetual and unfair haranguing for the rest of the series.

The dismissal happened after Bell and Eoin Morgan ran three from the last ball of the last over before the tea break. Mistakenly believing either that the ball had gone for four or that over had been called, Bell wandered from his crease and set off for the pavilion and India removed the bails. Given the chance to withdraw the appeal MS Dhoni, India's captain, refused at least twice.

At the time, Dravid had been off the field, and when India's players returned to the dressing room they were greeted with his calm, sensible assessment that justice had not been done. As the Indian players talked and listened to Dravid, phone calls were being exchanged between senior officials of the England and Wales Cricket Board and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Separately, Andrew Strauss, England's captain, and the coach, Andy Flower, approached their India counterparts, Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher. Fletcher felt the decision should stand but back in the dressing room Dravid's wisdom was gaining ground. The players and Dhoni began to recognise that whatever the legitimacy of the appeal, there were wider considerations. An example of this was seen after tea when the crowd, unaware as yet that Bell could resume his innings, jeered India to the rooftops as they took the field.

No sign of Indians in the box

There is, as usual, plenty of expertise in the Test Match Special box. None of it is Indian. Unusually, perhaps unprecedentedly, for the second successive match the flagship programme has no voice from the country of England's opponents. Work permits and the tightening-up in issuing there of are to blame.

Sunil Gavaskar, who summarised for the first two Tests, did not, it transpired, have the appropriate visa. It has invariably been the custom that someone speaks with specialist knowledge of the touring side. But rules have to be obeyed. It is to be hoped the administrative oversight will be cleared up for the one-day series.

Fast food is order of the day

Gathered in one room next month, probably for the first and last time, will be 24 of the world's greatest living fast bowlers. They are being honoured at a dinner organised by the Lord's Taverners for no other reason than it is a jolly good thing to do.

The two dozen run from Alan Davidson of Australia, who played his first Test in 1953, to Chris Tremlett, who began 54 years later. In between are men such as Jeff Thomson, Andy Roberts and John Snow. In all there are three Australians, seven Englishmen, a New Zealander, three South Africans, an Indian and nine West Indians.

There are inevitably notable absentees and not on the guest list are Dennis Lillee or any of the legendary Pakistan pacemen Imran Khan, Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.

Oval gets ready to rock

Those two Twenty20s between England and West Indies added to the end of the season were not excessive after all. Half the tickets for the matches, both at The Oval, have already been sold.

In a welcome initiative, free tickets are also being offered to the nearby West Indian community. Perhaps The Oval will rock to the sounds of the Caribbean once more.


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