Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day January 4, 2011

No-balls hurt Australia

Mitchell Johnson wants umpires to call no-balls immediately after Australia were the victims for the second consecutive Test when a front-foot decision was referred by an official. Michael Beer was celebrating Alastair Cook as his first Test wicket when Billy Bowden asked for - and then received - confirmation that the debutant spinner had over-stepped.

"If the umpires know it's a no-ball I think they should call it, instead of waiting to call it," Johnson said. Bowden had a hunch Beer had gone over but he waited for the catch to be taken at mid-on before requesting a replay.

"Everyone's going to have different opinions on it," Johnson said. "I suppose it's not a bad thing, but it can be frustrating. I suppose you've just got to get your foot behind the line."

Johnson was the one who transgressed last week when Matt Prior edged on 5 at the MCG before making the hosts pay by finishing with 85. Cook was 46 when he miscued today and was unbeaten on 61 at stumps.

It was a tough entry to the elite level for Beer, who bowled steadily during his nine overs, and his team-mates made an effort to cheer him up. What it shows is that Beer has learned one of the attack's bad habits very quickly. The Australians have always struggled with no-balls and it is common practice for them to go over the line by a long way at training.

"We always have this argument between batters and bowlers," Johnson said. "We always try to find a way to get behind the line. We all try and do it. Whether you feel enclosed with the nets being there, I don't know what it is. I still bowl half a foot over in the nets but I don't know how we're going to fix that."

James Anderson said the no-ball referrals represented "good cricket" because the right decision was made. "I think they should do it more often, I don't think they use it enough," he said. "A no-ball is a no-ball. You should get the correct decision when he's bowled one."

England's approach to over-stepping with David Saker, the bowling coach, is much more meticulous than Australia's sloppy method under Troy Cooley. "We think it's a very important part of our job to stay behind the line - even more so in one-day cricket," Anderson said."We try and practise it in the nets, and I hope we can replicate that out there."

The practice certainly seems to be working, as England have bowled just seven no-balls in the series, while Australia's tally stands at 19.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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