Cricket / Fifth Test: Border holds back Warne to win mind game

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THERE was a particularly fascinating piece of captaincy by Allan Border in the first session of the fifth Test match. After the early dismissal of Graham Gooch, Robin Smith settled in well and soon had his powerful square cut in action.

Smith's weakness in this series has been against the leg-spin of Shane Warne and it was reasonable to expect Border to waste as little time as possible in bringing him on. Yet he stayed with the Waugh twins.

Neither are much more than occasional seam bowlers and no great threat at this level. Such is the high state of confidence in the Australian camp that both now look distinctly better than that. Meanwhile it may still have been that Warne was uppermost in Smith's thoughts.

Steve Waugh caused umpire John Hampshire problems when he ran down the pitch in his follow through and received an official warning - a fact that will not have unduly worried the watching leg-spinner. When Waugh moved to round the wicket, the off-spinner Tim May will have taken notice.

One cannot tell whether this was preying on the batsmen's minds - and I am not suggesting Waugh was running down the pitch on purpose - but suddenly Mark, bowling from reasonably wide of the crease, slanted a ball into Smith which went between bat and pad and hit the top of the off stump.

The burgeoning partnership between Smith and Mike Atherton had been broken without Border having to call upon Warne. Matthew Maynard came in and will also have been apprehensive about Warne, whom he never played easily last weekend in Neath.

Again, Border let Warne prey on the batsman's mind and turned to May's off-spin, which, in his first over, accounted for Maynard. England went into lunch precariously placed with three wickets already down and Warne had not yet taken off his sun hat. Was it all brilliant psychology by Border or a couple of lucky breaks?