my own goal

The Test wicket-keeper, whose combative presence will be crucial to Australia's chances in their series against the West Indies which starts this week in Barbados, remembers the low farce of a previous encounter that has never been properly resolved
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The Independent Online
BEING a wicket-keeper means you are seldom far from the action. I wouldn't have it any other way, but constant scrutiny by television means that mistakes are seldom missed, and are often used as conclusive evidence for the latest theories or prejudices against you.

For me, one such moment came during the First Test against the West Indies on my home ground in Brisbane late in 1992. Relationships between the two teams had not been good for some time, but there was a consensus among us that we would play it hard but fair.

We had already batted and made 293, but should have got more, so we were pretty frustrated, particularly after Allan Border ran himself out for 73. Anyway, after a shaky start, the Windies began to get things together with a hundred partnership. Brian Lara was on 58 when he ran down the pitch to Greg Matthews, who saw him coming, and fired it wide down the leg side.

It was a difficult take, and I remember not gloving the ball cleanly, but you have so little time to correct mistakes that even though I sensed the ball was not in the glove, I still dived and broke the stumps. The whole thing was pretty messy as Lara had slipped trying to regain his ground, and I was in a heap, lying across the stumps.

What confused the issue was that I'd also managed to knock the ball towards the stumps as well. There was an appeal from somebody, but I told umpire Terry Prue that I thought I'd knocked the bails off with my glove. Tubs [Mark Taylor], who'd been at slip, confirmed this, saying that the ball had not made contact with the stumps.

Bizarrely, the umpire overruled us both and gave Lara out, claiming he'd seen the ball strike the stumps ahead of my glove. Television replays showed this to be untrue and that Lara was not out. In view of the status of the match there was a media outcry and I copped a heap in the press.

Everyone got so worked up that statements were issued by both myself and the umpire, who denied that Tubs had said anything at all to him. It should have been cleared up on the last day when Tubs was due to make a statement, but it was such a tight game that the whole thing was forgotten, especially when both Big Merv Hughes and AB got fined for dissent.

Still, I don't feel as if I've been properly vindicated, which is important these days, as TV is both judge and jury for a heck of a lot of people.

A far more amusing situation arose during the second one-day match against England at Trent Bridge in 1989. England had scored 226 for five and I was batting with Steve Waugh, with the match finely poised, when he decided on a risky second run. In my haste to oblige, I slipped and damaged my medial ligament. Steve wasn't so lucky; he got run out.

I was still there, but was having trouble running, so AB got "The Greyhound", Dean Jones, padded up and sent him out to run for me.

Unfortunately, I hit the next ball over mid-on and set off for a quick two instead of staying put and letting Deano do the work. Observers reckon I beat him back, which may be true, but all I know is that there was uproar from the Poms. It must have looked pretty farcical, but I was so pleased with the shot I forgot I'd hurt my knee.

I remember David Gower complaining to the umpires that despite my injury I was only slightly slower than Ben Johnson. Dickie Bird then sent Deano off, so I had to carry on not knowing what damage I was doing to the ligament. We tied the game, with me hobbling through for a bye to level the scores.

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