December 19, 2001

Vaughan: Probably it is against the spirit of the game

Michael Vaughan did something at the Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore that he will never attempt again in his life. The stylish batsman was on 64 and looking good for a big score when he was given out handling the ball.

This is the seventh occasion in Test cricket history that a player has been dismissed in such a manner. The illustrious Graham Gooch was the first English player to be given out in this mode, back in 1993 against Australia.

With the fall of Vaughan, England lost three quick wickets and finished the day on 255/6, not a position of strength by any stretch of the imagination. Vaughan left the ground rather reluctantly, completely bemused about what had happened. Later in the evening, he spoke to the media about his dismissal.

"It was only the natural thing to do. I went for the sweep shot, the ball got lodged between my arm and my pads, and there was no way that ball was going to hit the stumps," said Vaughan. "I just thought it was the right thing to do to help the short-leg fielder, and I flicked the ball to him."

"I understand that, in the laws of the game, it is out. I am a bit disappointed that someone in the team appealed, and obviously the umpire had to give me out," he said. Vaughan then clarified his position further. "It was lodged between my arm and the pad first. The ball was only going one way, and that was forward. I was just a bit bemused by the whole situation and didn't quite know what to do. Obviously, as soon as the umpire puts his finger up, you've got to go."

Vaughan insisted that he just wanted to get on with the game and that he was disappointed that the Indian team had appealed, leaving no option for the umpire but to give him out. When he was persistently asked whether the Indians appealing for the wicket was against the spirit of the game, Vaughan said, "Probably it is against the spirit of the game."

The batsman was further probed by the media, who were on the lookout for a bigger story. He was asked whether England would have appealed had Sachin Tendulkar done something similar. But the elegant batsman wisely refused to be drawn into the hypothetical. "It has happened. In hindsight, they should not have appealed."

Vaughan claimed that his team-mates were as disappointed as he that the Indian team had appealed for the wicket. He also added that Nasser Hussain had mentioned to him that, had such a thing happened when the Englishmen were on the field, the batsman would have been called back.

When asked about the small conversation that he had with non-striker Mark Ramprakash before leaving the field, Vaughan said that he had asked Ramprakash about the possibility of getting re-instated. Vaughan sported a big smile when revealing what Ramprakash's quick reaction was. "He said 'Get off'."

The stylish batsman was clearly disappointed about the missed opportunity. "It has all happened, I have been given out, and an apology wouldn't do anything. The harm has been done."

"We were in a strong position, and the three wickets in the last session have put India on the front foot. They are a world-class side, and you always have to be on your guard. It is going to be a crucial session tomorrow," he added. On the fact that the whole day's cricket was played under lights, he said, "It was fine to play under lights and great to be playing. Otherwise we wouldn't have had any cricket."

The lesson of the day, however, has been driven home. Vaughan has taken a vow that he will never handle the ball again. "Never. I might just kick it to the fielder," he said wryly.