Cricket / First Test: Captain's defiance ended by act of indiscretion

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ENGLAND'S day-long battle to save the first Cornhill Test ended with a defeat by 179 runs with only 58 balls remaining after the captain, Graham Gooch, was dismissed in one of the most unusual ways permitted by the Laws: handling the ball.

Gooch had reached 133, his 101st first-class century, when he played down a high, bouncing ball from Merv Hughes. He quickly turned and swept the ball away from the stumps with the back of his glove. The Australian captain, Allan Border, fielding close by, immediately appealed and the umpire, Dickie Bird, after a second's consideration, raised his finger.

Gooch explained: 'It was instinctive. I know the rules. The ball was hovering over the stumps. We shall never know if it would have hit.' Border, not surprisingly, was emphatic: 'The ball would have hit the leg stump.'

Once Gooch had gone the England middle was swept away leaving the tail-enders to cheer the crowd and save a little honour.

Border, looking tired after two days in hot sunshine, praised England: 'If they had been set 400 (the target was 512) they might have made it. The turning points were the dismissal of Mike Gatting last night because he can play the spinners so well and Graham's departure today. We were a little concerned when we couldn't break the ninth-wicket stand but our patience paid off.'

Border (142 Tests) would not crow: 'England have some bowlers with huge potential and some good batsmen. The balance is right, they just need a spark. We are on a winning streak, they are in the when-do-we- win-next syndrome.

'We've got to start again at Lord's where I know the pitch will be

different from the last time we played there.'

Shane Warne, the Australian leg- spinner who won pounds 750 as the man of the match, was named by Border as the bowler likely to swing the series. Border said: 'He bowled a long time (41 overs in two days) to prove he can sustain long spells. He told me near the end that his legs felt heavy but his fingers were OK.

'He's only 23 and still learning. He won't find as many pitches as helpful as this one but that first ball he bowled to Gatting in the first innings gave us a psychological edge. We know we are on a winner with him.'