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March 20, 2009
Bucknor stops here
Steve Bucknor made a good start to his final Test appearance, with several decisions upheld by the review system. One such moment came when Peter Siddle was adamant that he had trapped Ashwell Prince lbw for 40 and Bucknor disagreed. The Australians were convinced enough to go for the review and while the ball struck Prince in line and would have crashed into the stumps, it clearly pitched outside leg and was the right decision. Bucknor has copped plenty of criticism in the press over the past couple of years but journalists are a famously forgiving bunch. One South African reporter in the Newlands press box, after seeing the replays, bellowed: "Steve Bucknor, don't leave us yet!"
Passing the buck to Billy
The response wasn't so positive when the TV umpire Billy Bowden overturned Bucknor's not-out call to end Prince's innings on 150. The Australians felt Prince had gloved down the leg-side off Ben Hilfenhaus and Bucknor went in the batsman's favour. After six minutes of mostly inconclusive replays, including a Hot Spot that didn't show impact on the glove but might not have had the best angle, Bowden advised Bucknor to give it out. It looked as though the ball probably hit the glove but it was hard to imagine how Bowden could have been certain enough. For the record, Bucknor told Cricinfo last week that leg-side catches were among the hardest for umpires to adjudicate. "These are difficult to see from in front," Bucknor said. "They are easier from behind but at least the referral system is there to assist."
100 … maybe
Kallis has waited 11 months for a Test century so when it came up with a quick single his celebrations were naturally boisterous. At first. Until the umpire Asad Rauf called it a leg bye. The ball had taken the inside edge before ricocheting onto Kallis' midriff and when the umpire's signal came he was already embracing his partner AB de Villiers and acknowledging the standing ovation from the crowd. After Kallis showed his bat to Rauf, the umpire reversed his decision and the century stood. Ricky Ponting had some strong words to Rauf, querying the reversal, and it was unclear whether Rauf had consulted the third umpire or not. The confusion continued when the electronic scoreboard went blank. When it was switched back on, the figure next to Kallis' name was 100. Well, when you've waited 11 months, what's another minute or so.
Bryce pays the price
After bowling his first two Test overs late on the first day, Bryce McGain was overlooked for three hours on the second day before finally getting the ball in his hands. Onlookers were wondering why Ricky Ponting was ignoring McGain and instead rotating his four seamers in varying combinations. Eventually, at 2.10pm, McGain was given his first bowl of the day and it wasn't really worth the wait. Prince took the long handle to McGain and his first three balls disappeared for boundaries and when Jacques Kallis got in on the action as well, McGain's spell finished up at five overs for 51 runs. When he returned for a second spell things didn't improve and his first ten overs at Test level cost 93.
While McGain was getting pounded at one end, Peter Siddle at the other was sending down a magnificent spell of tight, aggressive fast bowling. Siddle's spell at the same time was six overs, five maidens, 0 for 1. He was so difficult to get away that at the same time as Mitchell Johnson had gone for 74 from 16 overs, Siddle's 16 overs had cost 16. But applying pressure is about working from both ends and the lack of support meant Siddle was unable to get a breakthrough during that wonderful spell.
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