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INDIA SKIPPER DHONI’S GREAT SPORTSMANSHIP WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY . . . WERE YOU WATCHING THIERRY HENRY?

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FOOTNOTE:  
01 August 2011:  England storm to a 2-0 series lead and now look odds on to win the four Test series by the minimum 2-match margin that will take India’s crown as the world’s No.1 cricket team.

Ian Bell re-instated after 'run out'

Ian Bell reprieved after controversial 'run out'


BY JOHN GUBBA

It is rare in the modern world that great sportsmanship prevails at the highest level – and one can only admire India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his gracious reprieve for England’s batting hero Ian Bell at such a pivotal moment in the Second Test.

Bell had played one of his finest innings for England, scoring 137 when he was given “run out” after the last delivery before the tea interval – and then reinstated in the most bizarre circumstances.

Eoin Morgan had played the ball down to long leg and Praveen Kumar made a diving attempt to stop the ball, which bounced off his leg as he fell over the boundary. Kumar, clearly under the impression that the ball had gone for four, returned it to MS Dhoni. And when the skipper gave it to his short-leg fielder Abhinav Mukund, who broke the wicket, Bell was run out. By this time Bell and Morgan, who appeared to think the umpire had called “over”, were on their way back to the pavilion for their cup of tea.

Following Indian appeals for the run out, Bell was given out after replays had shown that the ball had not gone for four and the umpires were booed as they took the field after the interval. But the boos turned to cheers when Bell resumed his innings, Dhoni withdrawing the appeal over tea.

Bell went on to reach 159 as England re-asserted their supremacy with an extraordinary 417 runs on the third day, reaching 441-6 to lead by 374. There is every chance Dhoni’s sporting gesture will cost India not only defeat to England, but ultimately their status as the world’s No.1 cricket team.

The whole episode was summed up succinctly by Bell – who was guilty of not playing to the whistle, when he said: “I was a bit naive to walk off for tea not attempting a run. But in the spirit of the game the right decision was made.”

Whatever the outcome of this Test, Dhoni’s sportsmanship will go down in history as the day India upheld the spirit of the game. There are not many sportsmen who would have done the same.

The day Thierry Henry grotesquely handled the ‘goal’ that sent France to the 2008 FIFA World Cup at the expense of Ireland stands out like a beacon as the occasion when one of football’s most gifted players was branded a cheat because his side refused to invoke the purist principles of good sportsmanship.

 

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HOW THE SECOND TEST ENDED:  The previous day’s drama was eclipsed when Tim Bresnan scored 90 runs and took five wickets as England tore India apart to surge to one of their most impressive Test victories in recent times. After racking up 544 in a blistering batting display, England’s seamers skittled the tourists for 158 to complete a 319-run victory on the fourth day at Trent Bridge. Geoffrey Boycott summed up England’s superiority when he declared: “England are after a 4-0 series victory and will go number one in the world easily. They are all over India. They are not just beating them but demoralising them. There are moments where it’s touch and go, but like a boxer they wear them down before they knock them absolutely flat out.”

 

 

 

ENGLAND’S HEROES ON THE BRINK OF REPLACING INDIA AS THE WORLD’S BEST CRICKET TEAM

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Andrew Strauss: We want to be the No.1

Andrew Strauss: We want to be the No.1

BY JOHN GUBBA

Winning and retaining the Ashes was priceless. But skipper Andrew Strauss has always said England’s ultimate goal was to become the World’s No.1 cricket team – and after yesterday’s First Test triumph against India this golden generation is deservedly in sight of their target.

Unlike England’s footballers who fell hopelessly short of world domination when their so-called golden generation hit its peak under Sven Goran Eriksson in 2006,  our cricketers can already hold their heads high after a succession of glorious highs in recent years.

For Strauss’s swashbuckling band of  heroes to mark this historic 2,000th Test – and the 100th between England and India – with an emphatic 196 run win at Lord’s was a spectacular achievement that ranks alongside any of the current era.

This was a victory just as big and impressive as those hammerings dished out to the Aussies at Melbourne and Sydney over the winter when England retained the Ashes for the first time in 24 years. In many people’s eyes a series win against India, whatever the score, will confirm Strauss’s team have achieved their goal.

But this England team has matured into a side that thrives on winning and setting new standards – and they will not be satisfied unless they win this 4 Test series by the required 2-match margin to officially be ranked as the world’s No.1 team. It would be the first time that England have earned the accolade of being the best team since the ICC rankings were launched in June 2003. And how they deserve it!

'a perfect performance' by England's bowlers

'a perfect performance' by England's bowlers

The beauty of this England side is that it is packed with matchwinners and the First Test against India was bristling with exceptional performances. On the final day Jimmy Anderson was the man inspired. For the Lancastrian to dismiss players of the calibre of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar, for the sixth time in Test cricket, and Suresh Raina on the same day was a special effort from the leader of England’s attack, who finished with 5 for 65.

England’s four bowlers – Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann – were an irresistable force that kept up the pressure until India’s eventual mistakes left them comprehensively beaten, and Strauss declared it was a perfect performance against a formidable batting line-up.

“Over the two innings, it was as close to perfect bowling performance as it has been in the last two-three years which is saying a lot as we have bowled quite consistently well in this period,” insisted Strauss after England dismissed India for 286 and 261 in the two innings.

Kevin Pietersen put England on road to victory

Kevin Pietersen put England on road to victory

The skipper was rightly proud of every man in his team. But the ultimate accolade went to man of the match Kevin Pietersen, whose imperious double-century in the first innings set up England’s victory. “That was one of the greatest innings I’ve seen,” said Strauss.  “He had to wait for the runs to come and he showed his class and his temperament as well.”

Class and temperament are two qualities running through the spine of this formidable England team. And how great will it be to see them claim the crown of undisputed world champions!