This one is a personal memory. On this day in 2002 I was present on my first overseas tour at the Adelaide Oval to witness Michael Vaughan’s magnificent 177 which proved to the Australians that (a) he could bat and (b) at a decent old pace. That it also meant that Justin Langer lost his shit over a catch denied him made it altogether sweeter in some ways.
I wrote at some length about it on the old blog. How there was a desperate search for accommodation, how the tickets were cocked up, how the stewards, to their great credit, sorted us out. How we had four numbskulls sitting in front of us with melons on their head, and when, in the Jetty in Glenelg later that evening I complained about them to a local who confirmed, much to my joy, that he was one of them! How I met two guys under the pylon, and met them each day to discuss the match (and went back four years later and they weren’t there…).
But the day was about Michael Vaughan. Tres and he got us off to a solid start, and then Robert Key batted at three for no great length of time. Nasser came in and stuck around for ages, scoring slowly, while Vaughan made it look a different game. The very short square boundaries suited his game, he made the most of them, and made a brilliant hundred. Hussain nicked off for 47 in the evening session, before Vaughan was dismissed with the last ball of the day to spoil the hard work England had put in. Three days later we had lost.
But on 21 November 2002, I saw Adelaide Oval in all its glory, Michael Vaughan flowing wonderfully, and added a life experience I never believed I would encounter.
Vaughan’s batting that year was some of the best I’ve ever seen by an England batsman. The way he was able to hook and pull McGrath’s “top of off” ball meant they could never dry up his scoring and build pressure as that bowling attack used to love to do.
Vaughan was of course going well in the second dig too when he fell to that preposterous McGrath catch:
Preposterous. So preposterous the TV channel in Adelaide that night asked, with a straight face, if it was the greatest catch ever.
Arguably we were diddled on Day 4. It rained on and off all afternoon and played in some pretty murky old dross, that might have seen us off more than we were. The following day, Day 5, it hosed it down all day.