England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day August 13, 2005

Warne following his own path

Shane Warne has saved Australia from the prospect of following on before Old Trafford



Old Trafford is not the first that Warne has saved Australia from the follow-on © Getty Images

Australia won't be following on at Old Trafford, thanks to the efforts of Shane Warne who brought up his half-century in the brief passage of play possible. Being asked to bat again by the opposition is not something Australia has had to contemplate very often in recent times. At Sydney in 2003-04 India had the option to stick Steve Waugh's men in again, but declined, and during the 2001-02 season New Zealand gave them a real scare at Perth before being thwarted - with Warne again to the fore.

In a similar situation to the one developing at Old Trafford, New Zealand amassed a commanding first-innings total of 534 before reducing Australia to 270 for 7 - 65 runs shy of saving the follow-on. Warne and Brett Lee then joined forces, adding 72 to take Australia past that mark with three wickets to spare. Today, in Manchester, it was Warne and Jason Gillespie halting England with an unbeaten stand of 44.

Warne eventually fell at Perth within one run of, what then, would have been his first first-class century. He could have nudged a single, but decided to go for glory, and attempted to reach the landmark with a six. However, he was caught at deep midwicket off Daniel Vettori, leaving him to wait until his stint with Hampshire in the early part of this season to register three figures.

That 99 at Perth is still Warne's highest Test score but, given continued support from Gillespie and the remaining two batsmen, Lee and Glenn McGrath, he may yet have another chance to reach that elusive hundred. Warne may think twice about trying to reach it with a six this time, although the manner in which he charged down the track to Ashley Giles, surviving a stumping and then hoisting him for four, suggests otherwise.

Warne has never been one to reach landmarks quietly and, in the match in which he has taken his 600th Test wicket, you wouldn't bet against him having another moment to savour.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo