England v India, Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Sunday July 31st 2011
An Indian supporter dropped his car keys into the urinal in the gents toilet shortly before the start of the third days play at Trent Bridge. He considered it an ill omen. How right he was.
43 behind with 9 wickets standing at the start of play, England were in a perilous position. Thanks to a combination of superlative batting from Ian Bell (aided and abetted by Kevin Peterson, Eoin Morgan and Matthew Prior) and some very flat performances from the Indians the situation was transformed. In the last session of play over 180 runs were scored; over 400 in the day. All this from a team in deep trouble.
India are currently ranked number one in the world at test match level. They did not play like the number one team. For long passages of play they were content to meander along and wait for something to happen. They did not seize their opportunities.
The day will be remembered for the kerfuffle just before the tea interval. It was the last ball of the session. Kumar attempted to stop a shot from Morgan on the boundary. In doing so he clattered into the rope and gave every indication the ball had gone for 4. He casually lobbed the ball back towards the square. By this time the umpire had handed the bowler his cap and everything looked over.....but it wasn’t. The ball had not gone for 4. Bell had set off for the pavillion prematurely. A quiet enquiry put the umpires on the spot. Calling for a replay they established the facts. Bell’s brilliant innings was over. Both batsmen were prevented from leaving the field while umpteen reviews took place. The crowd grew hostile as news filtered through via the radios many fans wore. After what seemed a long time the decision came up on the giant screen that Ian Bell was out, run out. Pandemonium.
Good sense and the ‘spirit of cricket’ prevailed over the tea interval and the appeal was withdrawn by the Indian skipper thereby allowing Bell to continue his innings. The authorities as usual were behind the action. The umpires and the Indian team took the field after the break to a storm of booing and calls of ‘cheat.’ Only a few seconds later that chorus was stopped in an instant when the figure of Bell emerged to re-commence his innings. An hour too late, at the drinks interval, the crowd were informed of what had gone on.
It seemed to affect Bell as he was not as fluent afterwards. He added a further 22 runs. It inspired England though as they flogged the Indian bowling to all parts. By close of play a lead of 374 runs had been established. Far beyond the hopes of even the most ardent England supporter.
Fantastic cricket and wonderful theatre.
The keys in the urinal were right. India had a terrible day on the field. They had a brilliant one off it.