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The Judge: Common sense prevailed over the Bell controversy

PUBLISHED: 15:31 03 August 2011

The Ian Bell run-out saga dominated Monday's headlines despite everything else that was happening in a dramatic second Test between England and India at Trent Bridge.

The most important thing was that the correct outcome was achieved in the end when India withdrew their appeal during the tea interval.

It’s a good thing that the spirit of cricket was upheld and common sense prevailed.

The umpires were forced into the decision by the laws of the game and Bell’s naivety in leaving his ground when a four had not been signalled and time had not been called.

But there was every indication that the fielder, Praveen Kumar, felt the ball had gone for four from the fact he made no immediate effort to return it, and in no way was Bell attempting to run.

I am sure he has learned from his mistake and won’t do it again.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain made the point that in the Subcontinent, it is dangerous to walk out of your crease in that kind of situation, and I know from playing in South Africa that you would expect your stumps to be broken if you go walkabout. A batsman wanting to chat to his partner or do a bit of gardening must seek clear permission to leave the crease.

My old Derbyshire team-mate, South African batsman Peter Kirsten, was a stickler for that. If anyone walked out of his crease when we were fielding, he would be gesturing for us to throw down the stumps and we had to tell him that we don’t really do that in England.

It was fortunate that the Bell incident happened at the best possible time – the last ball before tea – because had there been no break the decision would have stood, he would have been out and the atmosphere between the two teams, and the subsequent repercussions, could have been very different.

I believe that M S Dhoni and the Indian players quickly realised the dismissal was not quite cricket. We have all been guilty of making a rash decision when we think afterwards ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’.

It appeared that some of the Indians, when they walked off for tea, didn’t feel at ease with what had happened and although it was reported that Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss had approached them to see if they would reconsider the appeal, I believe they were already having that discussion before the captains and coaches consulted.

It was unfortunate that the crowd booed the umpires, then Dhoni and his team, because they were unaware of what had been decided during the tea interval.

Considering what is at stake, the two Tests have been played in great spirit, but there is bound to be a competitive edge.

Players are not robots, and there are bound to be reactions to certain decisions – as long as it doesn’t go too far.

What is clear is that India have not played like the No 1 ranked Test side. There have been a few good individual performances but no real joined-up cricket.

To lose a Test so heavily after getting a first innings lead is very poor. The third innings is always the most important of the match and England took the game away from them brilliantly, scoring 187 in the final session on Sunday.

At the moment England are very well placed to take over top spot in the world rankings because it is hard to see how India can win a Test in this series, although they do tend to get better as a series progresses.

Stuart Broad has had two brilliant matches and justified the selectors’ faith in him with his man of the match performance.

• LOYAL SERVANTS AMOS AND FREE KEEP MALLARDS ON TRACK

It was a very good weekend for Vauxhall Mallards in league and cup, with a few of their older heads coming to the fore.

They picked up maximum points in their East Anglian Premier League victory over Halstead, closing the gap slightly on leaders Swardeston, then hammered Swardeston by 129 runs the next day to reach the Carter Cup final, where they will play Horsford.

Carl Amos, Peter Free, Steve Goldsmith and Paul Bradshaw all played key roles over the two days to keep Mallards in contention for three titles.

Carl scored nearly 200 runs over the two days and Peter, a player who always puts every last ounce of effort into the game, made 70 in the league match.

It will be excellent to see these two great servants involved in another big occasion in the Carter Cup final on August 14.

I have good friends in both camps and some fantastic memories of playing for Horsford, and it should be a great occasion at Manor Park, one I very much look forward to watching.

Finally, it could be argued I have inflicted the curse of the column on Fakenham after suggesting last week they were almost home and dry in winning the Norfolk Alliance Premier Division.

They promptly suffered their first defeat at Diss.

But don’t worry, lads. I am certain Fakenham will still win the title as they are, by all accounts, the best side in the league.

• EIGHT-WICKET MASTERS IS THE STAR OF ‘FREAK SHOW’

Leicestershire, one of my former counties, suffered one of those nightmare days on Friday when they were bowled out for 34 by Essex in the County Championship match at Southend.

David Masters, playing against his former county, was largely responsible, with remarkable figures of eight for 10 at Garon Park to help his side to a 280-run victory.

In any collapse there is normally at least one decent partnership, but there clearly wasn’t in this instance and to be bowled out in less than 15 overs is very rare.

It doesn’t happen very often today because of the quality of wickets we play on.

I’ve watched Masters at Chelmsford and he bowls very, very straight, wicket to wicket. Seeing clips of the Leicestershire second innings on TV, it didn’t look as if there were any crazy shots being played, no top-edged hooks or wild slogs, so to take eight wickets is some achievement – because when wickets are tumbling there is usually someone taking them at the other end at the same time.

I’ve experienced both sides of a day like that because I remember taking eight for 29 against Yorkshire at Headingley in 1988, and I’ve been involved in a few batting collapses, too.

In most cases it just becomes very, very quiet in the dressing room with only the sound of people strapping on pads every few minutes and not a lot of time to sit and watch the game.

After the event, though, everyone will sit down and discuss it and probably dismiss it as one of those days.

It can happen to any side, but Leicestershire have done reasonably well this year and I am sure their coach, Phil Whitticase, will tell them it was a bit of a fluke, a freak accident and to put it to the back of their minds.

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