South Africa v England, 4th Test, Johannesburg, 2nd day January 14, 2005

Vaughan blasts umpiring inconsistency

Michael Vaughan: back to form © Getty Images

Michael Vaughan was pleased and frustrated in equal measure by the close of the second day's play at the Wanderers. He burst back to form with a superb 82 not out, which rescued England from a mid-innings slump of five wickets for 16 runs, but by the close he was scratching his head in bemusement, after play was suspended 13 overs early due to bad light.

"All we ask for is consistency, and I don't think there have been consistent decisions made today," said Vaughan, whose side was asked to bat under heavy cloud cover, reminiscent of his debut here in 1999-2000, when England were reduced to 2 for 4 in their first innings. "It is always tricky in a situation like we had with cloud cover and a little bit of mizzle, but it was still pretty bright out there and we would have liked to have finished off the overs.

"The umpires have to make a decision," he added, "but at one o'clock, we were batting in indifferent conditions, and then the fielding captain asks for the light when they are in a bit of trouble, and the umpires accept. They just said it was off, and once they tell you, that's it."

As a Yorkshireman, Vaughan is well used to batting in such dank conditions, and he admitted that the first hour had reminded him of being back at Headingley, not to mention being back where his international career all began, in 1999-2000. "I had a bit of déjà vu," he said. "There were quite a lot of memories to draw on." But, he added, it was definitely England's day, as they closed on 411 for 8, having added 133 for the eighth and ninth wickets.

It was a triumph of will for Vaughan himself, who had been horribly out of nick during the first part of his innings on the first evening. He crawled to 9 from 45 balls, and admitted that he had been working hard on his game overnight. "When I started out today, I wasn't in any sort of form," he said. "I watched a few videos overnight, and went back into the nets this morning to try to iron out a little flaw which had crept into my technique. I had just been thinking of survival last night."

Vaughan has spent the last week undergoing intensive one-on-one coaching with Duncan Fletcher, just as he had done last summer, when he suffered a similar rough patch of form. On that occasion, it paid handsome dividends, with twin hundreds against West Indies at Lord's, and by the time he was joined by the tail, the benefits of his extra homework were beginning to pay off.

"A lot of credit has to go to Ash [Giles]," said Vaughan, "because he got our momentum going, particular after the third stoppage, when the sun came out, the wicket calmed, and the bowlers got tired. And when Harmy came out, I knew I had to play more positively. He's a funny batter - he always says if he gets past the first three balls he is in!"

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Cricinfo.