NOTTINGHAM, England (AFP) - England coach Andy Flower believes there would have been a "proper international incident' had an India batsman been run out in Ian Bell-like fashion in India.
Bell was run out on the stroke of tea on the third day of the second Test at Trent Bridge after incorrectly assuming the ball had gone 'dead'.
Although the England batsman, who'd then made 137, was not seeking to gain an extra run, India were well within their rights to run him out and, after several minutes of confusion, Bell was eventually dismissed.
But India sportingly withdrew the appeal during the interval, following an approach by England, and the jeers of the crowd when the tourists returned turned to cheers when they saw Bell coming out to resume his innings.
Bell eventually made 159 in a match England won by a crushing 319 runs with more than a day to spare as they went 2-0 up in the four-match series.
Many former players said Bell had been in the wrong, with West Indies fast bowling great Michael Holding adamant the batsman should not have been reprieved having taken it upon himself to assume the functions of an umpire.
India batsman Rahul Dravid said afterwards the thought of 'what if it had been one of us?' had played a key role in the withdrawal of the appeal and Flower insisted: "You should consider what their reaction would have been if the England side had run out an Indian player like that.
"I'm not convinced there wouldn't have been uproar.
"If an England side had done that in Mumbai (India star Sachin Tendulkar's home town), I think there would have been a proper international incident on the cards," the former Zimbabwe batsman added.
"I don't think that's being overly dramatic."
Flower, who accepted Bell made a mistake, and England captain Andrew Strauss both approached India, whose coach Duncan Fletcher, like Flower a former Zimbabwe international, was previously in charge of England, to try to get the appeal rescinded.
"We didn't think sitting in our changing room and fuming quietly to ourselves was going to do any good," Flower explained. "We thought communicating like that would be the way to go."
India's withdrawal was hailed in some quarters as a triumph for the 'spirit of cricket' and 'common sense'.
"I think this was one of those incidents where that rule (common sense) should be applied," Flower added. "I think he (Bell) used the word 'naive' and that's probably accurate. He was certainly innocent.
"One of the factors that has not been discussed much is that the fielder's (Praveen Kumar's) body language, after stopping the ball, indicated that it was four because he showed no urgency in returning the ball to the wicketkeeper.
"His whole body language gave the message to Bell that it was four.
"So I do have sympathy for Bell, because the tacit message implied by the body language of the fielder was that it was four, but in no way was the fielder duping Bell."
England will replace India at the top of the ICC's Test Championship table if they maintain or better a 2-0 lead in this four-match series, with victory in the third Test at Edgbaston, starting on August 10, assuring them of the number one position.
However, Flower said: I would like to emphasise right now -- and we've done the same in our dressing-room -- that we're ahead in the series but we're only halfway through the series.
"There is no point in triumphalism. We don't even know if we're going to win the series yet."