The strange game of cricket.

This weekend we saw a further example of why many people either understand the game of cricket or they don’t. For those of us who have played and watched the game since a young age the reinstatement of England’s Ian Bell was entirely appropriate following his seemingly controversial yet correct dismissal of being run out in the England v India test match.

There are many laws that have been established since the game’s invention, believed to have been in the 16th Century,  but the game has always been considered a “Gentleman’s game”. So what does this mean?

Thankfully the Marylebone Cricket Club, or MCC as it is better known, have been custodians of the laws of the game since 1787 and in 2000 it sought to define what is meant by the term “Gentleman’s game” and renamed it the “Spirit of Cricket” which is now fully engrained in the preamble to the Laws.

The “Spirit of Cricket” can be read in detail at  Having been captain of my club for a number of years and playing for the MCC this has been at the forefront of my mind in how I play and conduct myself on the field.

However what MS Dhoni did was completely within the Spirit of the game even though as a professional player at the top of his sport to make such a sacrifice with his team not in the strongest of positions must have caused his conscience some trouble. It is often for this reason that people either understand the game or they don’t. Whilst I can fully understand MS Dhoni and the Indian team’s decision how do I go about explaining it to my non cricketing friends?

It’s hard enough going through the ways in which you can be out and that after five days of cricket there does not have to be a winner. So where to start with the Bell incident. He was out and then he was in. The Spirit of the game said he should be in when the Laws of the game said he was out.

I know of no other sport where this would happen, can you imagine Manchester United captain saying to the referee after he disallowed a goal to award it in favour of the opposition, I don’t think so!

Cricket has been played all around the world having been taken to many places by the British. UK expats have continued to spread the game into far-flung places even if some of the more strict laws are relaxed to ensure that the most basic form of the game such as beach cricket can take place.

Debates take place all around the world about the best bowler, best batsman and the best team. The game is full of statistics with records being kept of virtually all games from international level to the village green. But the reality is that you either love it or you don’t. I suggest that those who understand it form the first group!

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