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Dhoni sahib and English 'fairness'

world Updated: Aug 02, 2011 01:52 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
Dipankar De Sarkar


After galloping to commercial glory by seizing control of East India Company, Tetley tea and dozy bank holidays, India's post-colonial raid of British treasures and traditions would have reached the point of breathless exhaustion, you'd think.

You'd be wrong. For our man from Ranchi has gone and outdone the English by conquering even that supposed final frontier of Englishness: a sense of fairness. The letter of law is not all, English jurisprudence holds, the spirit too must be upheld by the value of fairness.

Newly-arrived foreigners wishing to settle down in Britain these days are supposed to learn the English language, and adhere to British norms and values. But nothing is quite what it seems with values, especially when they clash with the law, as the entire-cricketing world (the 53 nations of the Commonwealth plus, er, Ireland and the Netherlands) will have learnt on Sunday.

The stakes at Nottingham were enormous - India stood to lose its top spot in Test rankings - yet Dhoni, after conferring with his teammates, decided to withdraw the umpires' correct decision ruling a dozy Ian Bell out. The Indian skipper has been hailed for upholding the spirit of the game and the spectators at Nottingham gave him a standing ovation.

But wait. What about the law? The evidence against Bell was overwhelming. His partner Eoin Morgan signalled him to return to the crease, but the bails were off. So, in Shane Warne's words, Bell decided to "bluff" his way through to tea. Quite rightly, Bell later described his actions as "stupid."

Now, British newspapers that said not a word about Michael Vaughan's 'Vaseline' jibe at VVS Laxman have showered Dhoni with praise. The former Test cricketer Vic Marks wrote: "By his (Bell's) foolishness, he allowed Dhoni to display to the rest of the world that the Corinthian values of old are not entirely dead."

So, now we know: the long-dead Corinthian gentleman - athletic, fashionable and born with a sense of fair play - has suddenly sprung up from the dusty fields of Ranchi to descend on the English village green.

Perhaps the fair-minded English will now return the favour? There is, for starters, the small matter of a 58-year-old Indian man who has been patiently waiting to join his wife and family in England. As has been widely reported, they have been married for 37 years but Vali Chapti, who lives in the dusty fields of Gujarat, cannot come here unless he learns English.