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South Africa v India

Watch: The controversial overturned Ian Bell run out that’s reminiscent of Van der Dussen’s dismissal against India

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Watch: Even as debate raged over the Rassie van der Dussen dismissal in the South Africa-India Test at Johannesburg, with speculation as to whether the batter could be potentially recalled, it reminded one of the Ian Bell controversy in 2011.

During the second innings of the second Test between England and India in 2011 at Nottingham, right at the stroke of tea, Eoin Morgan pushed an Ishant Sharma delivery towards the leg-side. Praveen Kumar, stationed at fine-leg, tried to chase it at the boundary line but the ball seemingly got the better of him. While trying to prevent it from crossing the line, he tapped it back and ran across the rope, even as the ball trudged along the line. As was later revealed, the ball hadn’t actually touched the boundary rope, but the seamer was unaware of the same, gently picking it up and lobbing it back towards the keeper.

One could see on the screen that Bell was walking down to the other end even as the ball wasn’t dead. The keeper, MS Dhoni passed the ball to a fielder who took the bails off at the striker’s end. Michael Holding on-air went, “The ball isn’t dead, I am not too sure what’s happening here. What took place? Now, this is very interesting. Both batsmen were out of the ground, the ball came back, they took the bails off…if it’s not four, this could be interesting.”


The umpires checked if it was a boundary or not. Asad Rauf signalled the batters to return to the middle. Shane Warne on commentary said, “I don’t think the ball was dead, was it? I think the batsmen just assumed it was four, but I’m not sure that the ball hit the rope. The batsmen just walked off and didn’t get in the crease, so the ball was still alive…and Indian players had taken the bails off and appealed. So if this is not four, it could be out.”

The replays showed that Ian Bell was the batter who had walked off towards the non-striker, assuming that the ball had been hit for a four and tea had been called. Morgan at the other end, seemed unsure himself and looked around for clarity. He then went ahead and grounded his bat. Shane Warne said, “England players seem pretty nonchalant about it, what’s all the fuss about, but I think he could be in trouble Ian Bell.”

It was eventually determined that it wasn’t a boundary, and Ian Bell was ruled run out. India players walked off for tea being booed off by the crowd. Michael Holding called it, “An unfortunate situation but a careless move by the two English batsmen.”

Shane Warne said, “I don’t think it’s really in the ‘spirit of the game’…if you go by letter of the law, the ball was still alive and they just walked out of their crease. But in spirit of the game (the dismissal), it’s not on.”

Much wasn’t clear on what transpired in the dressing rooms until play began for the final session, as the crowd booed at the India side while the England players applauded them. Soon the jeers turned into a round of cheer as England centurion Ian Bell walked out to bat. During the break, the England skipper Andrew Strauss and then coach Andy Flower went to the India dressing room and asked MS Dhoni if the decision could be overturned. India agreed to the same.

This was to have a big impact on the game, as England would’ve been effectively 187-4 had Dhoni and Co. decided against recalling him. The duo added 69 runs as England strengthened their grasp over the game. India eventually lost the Test by 319 runs.

The major difference between the van der Dussen dismissal and the Bell run out, is that according to the laws, Bell’s run out was definitely out; it was only because of Dhoni that he was recalled to the crease. With van der Dussen, the umpires deemed that there was no conclusive evidence that suggested that the dismissal be overturned.

You can watch the incident here:

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