Nasser Hussain was not flinging idle praise around when he termed Michael Vaughan's 197 one of the best innings he had ever seen from the blade of an English bat. The classical opener's highest firstclass score was quite definitely an innings that would done the best of his tribe proud.
Michael Vaughan against all bowlers - England 1st innings at Trent Bridge
The Yorkshireman was helped in no small measure by the Indian bowlers, who played a significant part in the transformation of the 27-yearold, whom many had previously marked as the ideal replacement for another Michael - the very correct and very stodgy Atherton - into a batsman who tore the opposing attack to shreds.
Pitching short and spraying the ball everywhere, India's bowlers helped the England opener feel at home immediately upon his arrival at the crease. High on confidence after his hundred in the England second innings at Lord's, Vaughan was not in the mood to miss out on such easy pickings.
With dozens of short-of-a-length deliveries on offer, the region between point and third man naturally proved a productive one, yielding as many as 43 runs. Another area that provided runs by the bucketful was mid-wicket, where Vaughan creamed as many as 44 through fine back-foot pulls and front-foot drives. It is also telling that only 20 runs out of 197 - a measly 10.15 % - came in the vee between mid-off and mid-on. On that Trent Bridge wicket, India should have been pitching the ball up much further, allowing it to swing and use the juice in the wicket. If Vaughan had made 197 with the bowlers sticking to the appropriate length, many more runs would have come off straight drives.
Michael Vaughan against Harbhajan Singh - England 1st innings at Trent Bridge
Harbhajan also made another fundamental error, not only against Vaughan but against the rest as well. Not once did he succeed in flighting the ball and luring Vaughan into the expansive drive. Ironically enough, then, it was Vaughan who, in India's second innings, reminded everybody of the efficacy of that classic offspinner's tactic. The ball with which he brought about Sachin Tendulkar's downfall was exactly the kind that Harbhajan himself should been attempting.