England v Australia, NatWest Series, Edgbaston June 28, 2005

Vaughan defends aggressive England



Paul Collingwood and Matthew Hayden square up © Getty Images

Michael Vaughan defended his team following the unsavoury scenes between Simon Jones and Matthew Hayden, during the washed-out one-day international at Edgbaston. The flashpoint of the match occurred in the sixth over when Jones fielded a drive in his follow-through, then attempted to throw down the stumps, but instead clattered Hayden on the shoulder. Hayden reacted angrily and then exchanged words with Paul Collingwood, causing the umpires to become involved to calm the situation.

But Vaughan did not want to blow the incident out of proportion: "I think they [the umpires] just wanted to make sure that both teams weren't stepping over the line. It's always tough cricket when England play Australia and Simon apologised straight away and probably a little bit of the incident was untoward.

"This England team are all together and I think we have been for two years. Whether we are batting, bowling or fielding we stick together and that incident probably shouldn't have taken place, but we didn't need calming down because we know that you don't want to see those kinds of incidents on the cricket field."

However, Vaughan admitted this latest exchange probably wouldn't be the last of the summer: "We play it pretty tough and so do they. I wouldn't say it will be the last time that England and Australia exchange a few words, I'm sure it will happen throughout the summer."

Ricky Ponting also played down the confrontation, even though he felt it necessary to go up the pitch when Jones and Hayden clashed. "I just wanted to make sure that he was focused and ready for the next ball and he dealt with it and got it out of his system. He is very good at doing that, he's great a switching on and off and he was fine afterwards.

"It was just something that happened in the heat of battle. I don't think there was any malice or that he meant to hit Matty. But I think when the ball actually did strike him you'd expect there to be some retaliation from the batsman's point of view. Obviously there were a few words and it was all over and done with very quickly.

The Jones-Hayden eyeballing was not the only controversy in a match which threw up plenty of incidents, despite only going just over half the distance. Kevin Pietersen took a low catch at third-man to dismiss Damien Martyn, who stood his ground before the umpires gave him out.

Ponting said he was happy with the catch, having seen the replays, and both captains indicated that they would sit down before the Test series to discuss the issue of disputed catches. "What we try and to is to take it out of the umpires' and third umpires' hands," said Ponting. "In Damien's defence, all he was trying to do was get it from Kevin that he had actually caught the ball." Vaughan added: "Kevin was confident that he'd taken it, and he said he'd taken it, that's why the umpires gave it out."

As expected, both captains had differing views on how that game may have turned out if the rain hadn't arrived. Vaughan was delighted with the England fightback, which restricted Australia's final onslaught: "At one stage we could have kept them to 250 but when they were 222 for 4 with eight overs left you were looking at 280 or 290 with someone like Symonds in. For us to come back in those last 10 overs was a real positive."

But Ponting was confident his team had enough runs and says the game emphasised how closely fought the summer could be: "We know that we are in for a good contest this summer. I think that has been made apparent so far. There is a challenge there and all of our guys are certainly ready for it."

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo