Umpire's decision is not quite final

FIRST TEST: Opener reaches second half-century for England with his feet up in the pavilion
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The Independent Online
Reverse swing during previous England-Pakistan Test series has dominated conversations in bars over the last four years or so, and at The Bar in the last couple of weeks, but it has finally given way to its successor - reverse decisions. Events at Lord's during England's first innings reached such a pitch yesterday that the players and umpires could have decamped a little further south to the Whitehall Theatre and enacted the farce there.

It all began when Nick Knight appeared to edge a delivery from leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed towards Aamir Sohail at slip. The unfortunate fielder got his right hand to the ball but failed to hold on to it. Knight, on 48, and Alec Stewart were able to complete two runs and the crowd saluted the Warwickshire left-hander's second half-century for England.

Knight in his turn raised his bat in gracious acknowledgement of the appreciation of his achievement. But the cheers were cut short when it was observed that umpire Peter Willey was indicating that the scorers should record the runs as leg-byes. Knight scored a further single then fate stepped in.

Waqar Younis had returned at the pavilion end and was granted a leg-before decision against Knight, courtesy of umpire Steve Bucknor. That happened some 15 minutes before the interval and from that point the tea and the plot started brewing.

According to the third umpire, John Holder, during the interval Willey decided he had been mistaken in signalling two leg-byes and reversed his original decision, thus presenting Knight a belated half-century - 100 balls, seven fours - when he was already back in the dressing room.

According to David Lloyd though the decision was rethought at the behest of the England management. "I did that sort of thing when I was umpiring," admitted the England coach, who was on the first-class list in the late Eighties. It was mischievously suggested that perhaps the umpire's decision to reverse his original decision could be reversed, but no one was prepared to put a toe into the murky pool.

By the way, Knight was to a certain extent consoled. "They were my runs," said the England opener afterwards. "I wasn't aware that they had been signalled as leg-byes. I didn't even realise that I had been dropped at slip, I just saw the ball go behind and I was just running to get my fifty. I'm not sure I have had runs credited to me like that before. It was a strange situation but it's a Test match fifty and I am greedy about runs."

There had been some doubt over Knight's leg-before dismissal, but he said: "The umpire's decision is final," before adding with a grin, "but he can change his mind."

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