The spirit of cricket, an example to all sports

England's Ian Bell, right, shakes hands with India's Shanthakumaran Sreesanth after loosing his wicket, caught by India's VVS Laxman for 159 off the bowling of Youvraj Singh, on the third day of their cricket test match at Trent Bridge cricket ground, Nottingham, England, Sunday July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Here’s a great story showing, not only something that makes cricket special, but something other sports could use as an example of sportsmanship:

Associated Press

NOTTINGHAM, England — In a sport renowned for almost antiquated notions of fair play, cricket resounded with the unlikeliest of chants: “Cheat!”

During England’s match against India on Sunday, England batsman Ian Bell incorrectly thought his shot off the last ball of the session had reached the perimeter of the field, meaning the end of play.

As he walked toward the locker room, however, India broke the stumps and the TV referee ruled Bell was out. Under the laws of the sport, the decision was correct because the ball was not officially “dead.”

The crowd turned hostile, with cries of “Cheat! Cheat! Cheat!” ringing Trent Bridge on the third day of the test match. The taunts seemed directed at both the Indian team and match officials as they walked onto the field for the restart of play.

The jeers turned to raucous cheers when, somewhat dramatically, Bell was the last person to reappear from the locker room.

During the break, England’s captain and coach asked India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni to reinstate Bell. Dhoni complied and his decision helped take the game away from India.

The chief executive of the sport’s global ruling body later released a statement lauding the eventual outcome.

“While the initial appeal and umpire decision may have been acceptable to the letter of the law, the decision by India captain MS Dhoni and his team — as well as the Team India coaching staff — to withdraw the appeal shows great maturity,” Haroon Lorgat wrote. “To see players and officials uphold the great spirit of cricket, which has underpinned the game for more than a century, is very special.”

Bell shook hands with every Indian player when his innings was over. Dhoni drew a standing ovation when the public address announcer revealed his role.

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