This week’s ‘Better Than Sex’ comes from an unlikely source. With one of cricket’s greats at the crease the drama comes from the man with the ball in hand… and that man is Michael Vaughan.
Nasser Hussain’s England arrived at Nottingham buoyed by a 170-run win in the series opener at Lord’s – only their second win over India in 12 years – with Michael Vaughan in the midst of a purple patch that would culminate in him becoming the No.1 ranked Test batsman a few months later.
The Trent Bridge Test saw him hit his third of four centuries that summer but his headline-grabbing contributions weren’t restricted merely to his batting. This was Vaughan’s time, and everything he touched was turning to gold.
England responded to India’s first-innings 357 by racking up 617, Vaughan the star of the show with 197 – his highest Test score to date – with Alec Stewart (87) and Craig White (94*) giving it some long-handle to leave the tourists needing to bat out five sessions to save the match.
England were well on course for the win as Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer departed inside the first two overs but Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar combined to frustrate the hosts, getting through to stumps on day four for the loss of no further wickets.
The next morning Tendulkar upped the ante, hitting Dominic Cork for three consecutive boundaries to move into the 90s at a touch under a run-a-ball. England were running out of time to force the victory when Hussain opted to go to the part-time off-spin of Vaughan, the Yorkshireman having taken his first Test wicket – that of Jaffer – in the previous match.
Lolloping in, back arched, Vaughan tossed the ball up. Gripping the rough just outside off-stump, an area worn down by Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan’s earlier exertions, the ball ripped back sharply between Tendulkar’s bat and pad, pegging back his off-stump as he over-balanced playing an airy drive. All Sachin could do was look back in bemusement at his rearranged stumps before trudging off.
Vaughan could barely hide his own surprise as he tore off in celebration, arms spread, high-fiving anyone in touching distance. A partnership of 135 between Dravid and Sourav Ganguly would eventually prove just enough to save the match but in what was an unforgettable summer for Vaughan, he had taken the wicket of the world’s most lauded batsman with a delivery that no one saw coming.
India 357 (Sehwag 106; Hoggard 4-105) and 424-8 dec (Dravid 115, Ganguly 99, Tendulkar 92) DREW with England 617 (Vaughan 197, White 94*)