India got quite a drubbing in the just concluded Test series against England which displaces India as the top ranked team. England played well and deserve kudos. West Indies should emulate the way England played in the series – batted, bowled and fielded well.
What also emerged out of the series is a strong spirit of sportsmanship that was missing in the game for a long spell. Players were interested in winning regardless of how they won, and there was cheating along the way. But Sachin Tendulkar, one of the best players in our time, returned to cricket the spirit of sportsmanship.
In the second Test, Ian Bell was given ‘run out‘ by the umpire at the last ball before lunch because he failed to ground his bat in what he thought was a four from a drive, and left for the pavilion. The Indians appealed and he was given out.
During the break, the captain and the coach of the Englishmen went over to the dressing room of the Indians and asked they reconsider their appeal for run out. Reports say most of the side were opposed to reversing the out as India was trailing badly and the Test was slipping away when India was on top at one time. However, Sachin Tendulkar gave his view and everyone fell in line. He is held in high regard by his teammates. And he is a fair cricketer, not a cheat like some.
As a true sportsman and in the spirit of the game, Sachin’s position was to allow Bell to return to the crease and Captain Dhoni acquiesced. The Little Master was cheered when the spectators saw Bell returning to bat. The spirit of the game was preserved. But the precedent for recent recalls was set by England, albeit under pressure, in the West Indies.
This incident is similar to the recall of Alvin Kalicharran at Port of Spain in 1974. Kalli was given run out on the last ball of the day because he did not ground his bat and walked off to the pavilion. England was trailing badly. After he was given out, the entire stands came out on the field in protest. Kalli had scored a hundred. While in the dressing room, after due consideration, the English decided to reinstate Kalli. He did not score many more runs. Kalli, like Tendulkar, was a sportsman and played in the spirit of the game.
Later in February 1980, India’s Captain Gundappa Viswanath recalled Bob Taylor when he was given out caught behind in the historic ‘Jubilee Test’ in Mumbai. England was in dire straits when Taylor was adjudged caught behind by umpire Jiban Dhan Ghosh off Kapil Dev’s bowling. However, Captain Viswanath asked Taylor whether he had nicked the ball and the English batsman replied in the negative.
The Indian captain then told him to bat again. Vishwanath, like Gavaskar, Rohan Kanhai, Vivian Richards, Kalli, etc, were not cheats. They played the game in true professional style with respect for their opponents and in a sportsmanlike manner. When they knew they nicked the ball and it was caught behind, they walked even when the umpire did not raise his finger.