Plays of the day March 6, 2009

Hot shots and Hot Spot

Brydon Coverdale presents the plays of the day from day one in Durban


Backing it up: Phillip Hughes swung consecutive sixes in the nineties, the second of which raised three figures © Getty Images
 

Nerves? What nerves?
The nineties didn't prove nervous for Phillip Hughes in his second Test match. He started an over from Paul Harris on 89 and finished it on 105. First came a lofted drive over mid-on for four that took him into the nineties and after three dot balls, Hughes let loose. The fifth ball of the over was a brave drive over long-on for six that took him to 99. He couldn't repeat it and bring up his first Test century with a six … could he? O ye of little faith. Hughes planted his foot down the pitch and slammed Harris onto the grass embankment at wide long-on to move to 105 and become the youngest Australian to score a Test century in 43 years.

A tasty Morne morsel
Hughes had already enjoyed an even more prolific over in the first session when he helped take 21 off Morne Morkel's second over. To make it even more remarkable, the over began with two dot balls. Then came a terrific off-drive, another one straight down the ground, a clip to leg and a drive through midwicket, all of which reached the boundary. To make matters worse, one of the deliveries was a no-ball and in amongst the carnage there were also four byes when Morkel dropped one too short and the ball flew over the head of the wicketkeeper Mark Boucher. Morkel was promptly removed from the attack with the unflattering figures of 0 for 25 from two overs.

Leg-bye … off the bat
South Africa had a horror day with the referral system once again and their first mistake came when Hughes tried to sweep Harris and there was a loud lbw shout. The batsmen took a run, which Asad Rauf called as a leg-bye, and the South Africans were convinced that it was worth going to Steve Bucknor for another look at the appeal. The review showed there had been a big under-edge onto the pad, so Hughes was not lbw, but for the next over the leg-bye stood. Finally his score was adjusted to avoid the ridiculous situation of him being not out because he hit it but not credited with a run off the bat.

Hot flash
Hot Spot's first appearance in the third umpire's box brought a lukewarm response. The South Africans were convinced Simon Katich inside edged behind off Morkel and when Billy Bowden disagreed, they wanted Bucknor's opinion. There was no way to tell using the raw replays, so Hot Spot was employed to shed light on the situation. The infrared camera didn't pick up any impact between bat and ball - although there was a lightning-like flash down the length of the bat that caused some confusion - and Katich was reprieved.

Sneaky snicko
To add to the drama, at the tea break the broadcasters showed the Katich referral using snickometer, which is not regarded as scientifically proven and therefore is not used by the third umpire. Snicko suggested there was an edge. South Africa's coach Mickey Arthur said after stumps that his players had seen the snicko verdict and it confirmed what they thought. "Our guys - every one of them is totally convinced he nicked the ball," Arthur said, before clarifying that with the evidence available to the TV umpire the correct decision had been made. Arthur had a laugh when asked about Hot Spot's non-verdict on a warm Durban day. He said: "I think Hot Spot didn't work today because it was too hot."

Disappointing Durban
For the first day of such an important match, the small crowd that trickled into Kingsmead was disappointing. If not for dozens of school groups, some of whom ended up playing their own games of cricket on the grass embankment, the stadium would have been inexcusably empty.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo