Sports Diary
by Patrick O’Connor

CRICKET has sometimes been called the ‘gentlemen’s game’, an indication that sportsmanship and fair play are vitally important.

Hence the phrase ‘it’s just not cricket’ used to describe something that is underhanded or unfair behaviour.

Batsmen are expected to ‘walk’ when they think they are out, even if the umpire has not signalled their dismissal and disputing officials’ decisions is  frowned upon.

So it was nice to see this tradition maintained in the Second Test match between England and India at Trent Bridge.

The England batsman Ian Bell walked off for tea believing that a shot by Eoin Morgan from the final ball before the interval had gone for four.

However, it had not and the ball remained ‘active’. As Bell headed for the pavilion India removed the bails.

After a discussion between the umpires Bell was given out on 137.

However during tea, discussions between England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower and their India counterparts Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher led to Bell being reinstated and he was allowed to continue his innings.

Bell, who was later caught at slip for 159, said later: “Looking back, it was probably a bit naive on my part to automatically walk off but the right decision has been made for the good of the game. I put my bat down after the third run and it looked like we were just meandering off for tea.

“Turning around, the umpire took his jumper out and started to walk towards the bowler and it all just looked like it was going towards tea. We were both a bit shocked, we didn’t really realise what had happened until we were halfway off.

“I didn’t know until the last minute that I would be going back out again but the way it’s been handled has been fantastic and in the spirit of the game.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar said: ”I have to congratulate Dhoni for what he did. Dhoni kept to the spirit of the game, and I think it’s so important in this day and age to keep the right spirit.”

Still on cricket, congratulations must go to Warwickshire’s Rikkie Clarke who has equalled the first-class record of seven catches for an outfielder in an innings against Lancashire. Now that’s what I call a safe pair of hands.

Tennis players are used to travelling all over the world to compete but the Serbian Bojana Jovanovski  really ought to invest in a satnav.

She ended up 900 miles away from the venue of her match after travelling to the wrong town!

The 19 year old  went to Carlsbad, New Mexico, instead of Carlsbad, California, for the San Diego Open.

After an early-morning flight to the correct Carlsbad, she had just 30 minutes to spare before playing ninth-seeded Italian Roberta Vinci. Perhaps not surprisingly she lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Darts players are not known for their slim, athletic build. Indeed many have acquired for reputation for acquiring substantial beer bellies in pursuit of their profession.

And veteran player Phil Taylor reckons he needs to shape up if he is to continue playing at a high level.

Taylor (51) who recently won the European Championship in Dusseldorf, said: “I realise how old I am and I’ve got to keep trying harder to keep with these young kids. I need more rest than they do and I need to eat healthier than they do.”

No more burgers then Phil.

The Football League programme started last weekend and the big boys of the Premier League kick-off this Saturday.

No doubt we will be treated to plenty of examples of greed and ego trips by these pampered, overpaid  ‘superstars’ but at least one player has shown that there is more to life than just self-interest.

According to a report in the Daily Mirror newspaper, the Manchester City and England player Gareth Barry is letting out his luxury Spanish villa to poor and sick children whenever he isn’t there.

The home will be used by the charity Sun And Happiness which provides holidays for youngsters living in poverty or battling life-threatening diseases.

Barry said: “It’s a pleasure to donate my holiday home to this fantastic charity and I look forward to hearing the holiday stories of these amazing kids.”