x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Cricket's spirit, not out

A generous gesture by India's cricket captain shows that the true spirit of sportsmanship does still exist.

His form and stamina have been questioned since his runs won the Cricket World Cup for India just four months ago. But on Sunday India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni proved that, even through times of personal adversity, he remains one of the sport's true heros. During the second test against England Dhoni, after a discussion with his teammates, called on the umpire to reverse the controversial dismissal of batsman Ian Bell.

The initial decision had taken six minutes and was greeted with jeers from the Trent Bridge crowd. Having been run out after leaving his ground for the break - believing the ball was dead - Bell returned to the crease after the tea break, to applause for both himself and Dhoni.

Dhoni's decision was laudable because, according to cricket's rule book, Bell had legitimately been called out. Dhoni was acknowledging that sometimes the spirit of the game is far more important than wickets. That Bell was having one of the innings of his life, and was poised on 137 not out at the time, make the decision even more admirable.

Dhoni's own play has so far had little effect on this series. And recalling Bell was hardly going to help India's cause in the second test either.

But Dhoni's actions have shown that winning isn't everything. Cricket's spirit has survived a close call.