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The Ashes, Second Test - Austrailians Walking to Victory
vaughany stands his ground at the second test
ISM's Vaughan stands his ground
England's capitulation in the Second Test did more than highlight the gulf between themselves and Australia. It also served to prove that the third umpire might not be as reliable an arbiter as many thought.

I refer to the first innings 'dismissal' of my ISM colleague
Michael Vaughan. The Aussies believed he was out, the crowd and those watching on television were just as certain and the batsman probably thought he was on his way back to the pavilion rather than heading towards a record 177.

Vaughan Stands His Ground

Michael was right to stand his ground if he thought there was an element of doubt and the longer it took the third umpire to deliberate, the greater the feeling that he too was not convinced Justin Langer had taken a clean catch. Langer had no doubt and the way the Australians celebrated was a fairly clear indication that they thought Michael's innings had ended when he had just 19 on the board. But there have been quite a few instances in the last year where what has been captured on video has not necessarily concurred with the belief of the naked eye. Such was the case in Adelaide and Vaughan was given 'not out'. As you can imagine, the Australians were so overjoyed with the decision that they decided to talk to Michael about it for quite some time afterwards. It is a testimony to the Yorkshireman's attitude and class that he remained unperturbed by the taunts, particularly from Langer, throughout a long day. And, of course, the Australians would have walked, wouldn't they? It was a point I am sure Michael made to them as they sledged their way through a blizzard of verbals.

When a batsman receives a reprieve of that order, it is important that they go on to make a score. But there is a difference in making a decent figure and making 177, especially when it is against the world's best bowling attack. Michael's innings was a masterpiece, packed with aggressive intent and one that prompted several of the Aussies to go into the England dressing room afterwards to offer their congratulations. I don't think Langer was one of them.

The Use of Modern Technology

The only thing that was proved conclusively on that first day was that modern technology is still not sufficiently advanced to be relied on in those circumstances. Just how many cameras would be necessary to cover every angle I'm not sure, but one thing is certain, if a batsman thinks there is a doubt, he's not going to walk. Gone are the days when that happened and today, throughout the world of cricket, nobody leaves until given out.

When I first started in cricket, 75 per cent of all cricketers walked when out caught behind. Not any more, batsman wait for the dreaded finger to be raised before leaving the middle.

Michael was right to stay and the third umpire agreed with him so the Aussies can have no cause for complaint. Getting Michael out on the last ball of the day, however, gave them cause for celebration and no wonder. His eventual dismissal was probably the game's turning point. Had Michael been not out overnight, I'm sure the positive psychological effect to the dressing room would have been enormous, he would probably have added more the following day and England might not have collapsed as quickly as they did. Unfortunately they were skittled out and once Australia amassed a first innings lead of more than 200, there was only ever going to be one winner.

So where do we go from here?
Unfortunately, Perth. If there is a pitch in the world which suits Australia more than any other, then it's the one this week's Test will be played on. It's hard, it's fast and it's bouncy and Australia are used to it. The way things are shaping up, England will do well to get a draw there.
Skipper Nasser Hussain must be wondering what on earth he has to do to get a result because the only thing that's gone his way so far is the toss. and the first time he won that, he opted to bowl and paid the consequences. It's going to be any thing but easy. even with the third umpire on his side.
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