By Navneet Mundhra
The controversy surrounding Ian Bell in the Trent Bridge Test took the mind back to 1974 when England played the West Indies in the first Test at Port of Spain.
Derek Underwood bowled the last ball of the second day to Bernard Julien who essayed a forward-defensive push to Tony Greig at silly point. Everyone assumed that it was the end of the day’s play. Wicket-keeper Alan Knott flicked the bails off and pulled out the stumps, Julien turned towards the pavilion as did Alvin Kallicharan at the non-striker’s end. However, Tony Greig threw the ball at the stumps at the bowler's end and appealed and umpire Sang Hue Kallicharran was declared run out!
At that time, Kallicharan was batting on 142 and guiding West Indies towards taking a handy first innings lead in replay to England’s paltry 131. As the spectators knew about Kallicharan’s untoward dismissal, they erupted. They started setting stadium on fire and there were soon scenes of utter chaos. Greig was driven back to his hotel by Garry Sobers, assuming that while the crowd might try to harm Greig, they would not touch him while he was with their national hero Sobers.
A hasty meeting was called involving the two captains, Donald Carr (England's tour manager), the umpires, and representatives of the West Indian Cricket Board. After more than two-and-a-half hours of meeting, an official statement was issued to the media that England's captain, Mike Denness had decided that "in the interest of cricket as a whole, and the future of this tour in particular, the appeal against the batsman is withdrawn."
Before the play resumed on Tuesday (Monday being the rest day), Kallicharan and Greig shook hands in the middle of the pitch. Kallicharan added 16 more runs before getting out for well-made 158 and West Indies won the Test by seven wickets.
Had England not withdrawn their appeal, it may well have been Port of Pain for them. Mercifully, wiser counsel prevailed after the dust and din settled down.
(Navneet Mundhra is a dreamer who has no delusion of grandeur about himself. He is an eternal learner brimming with passion and compassion, a maverick who swears by perfection and integrity and an avid reader, devout philharmonic, die hard movie buff and a passionate writer)