Plays of the Day April 21, 2007

The party pooper and Nixon's psychological ploy

Vintage Vaughan: will it be enough to resurrect a flagging one-day career? © Getty Images
Dented ego of the day
Poor Liam Plunkett! No quick bowler enjoys hearing the ball scream back over his head. Figures are damaged; masculinity even more so. And in the eighth over Chris Gayle inflicted this supreme indignity on Plunkett. Twice. The first crashed into the masonry over long-off. The second was launched over the bowler's head, over the rope, over the sightscreen, and into the third tier of the Three Ws stand, fully 80 feet above the ground. Ouch.

Party pooper of the day
Marlon Samuels. For Brian Lara's last innings thousands of spectators had paid $50 (plus) and given up their Saturday afternoon, dozens of journalists had written tens of thousands of words and 11 England players had formed a guard of honour. And then Marlon Samuels did a "yes, no, wait, sorry". Called through then sent back, Lara was run-out by plenty.

Golden memory of the day
Vaughan swivels ballerina-like on the spot and sends a slightly short ball from Jerome Taylor high into the midwicket stand. Close your eyes and it could almost have been Ashes 2002-03 when Vaughan destroyed the Australian attack, quite beautifully. Will that rekindled memory be enough to save his one-day career?

Direct hit of the day
No man in world cricket hits the stumps quite as often as Dwayne Bravo, who moves with feline slickness in the field. Vaughan and Kevin Pietersen had dominated in a stand of 53. But then it all ended with a late cut, a moment's confusion and a clatter of stumps. To the surprise of no one, the executor was Bravo, who hit the one and a half stumps he had to aim at from backward point.

Ploy of the day
The match pivoted round Paul Nixon. By smashing three bottom-handed fours through midwicket in the 48th over he made a seemingly impossible chase do-able. But it was the 49th over, with Broad on strike, which caught Nixon's Twenty20-honed pluck the best. As Taylor ran up to bowl Nixon, pedaled backwards alongside him, in the bowler's eyeline. It put something else in the bowler's mind just at the moment he least wanted it. Nixon's county captain, the trained psychologist Jeremy Snape, would have been proud.

Paul Coupar is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer