Michael Vaughan upset over pitch invasion

For thousands of years religious folk have argued about the exact number of angels who can stand on a pin head; and this cricket argument is just as obscure it will continue for years to come.


Jubilant Pakistan supporters invade the pitch at Old Trafford, Manchester after their team beat England by two wickets. A section of the crowd invaded the pitch as Abdul Razzaq hit the winning runs for Pakistan. The players had to run for cover. After this incident, Michael Vaughan, the new England captain, made noises about the possibility of a player being hurt .-Pic. AP

June 16. For thousands of years religious folk have argued about the exact number of angels who can stand on a pin head; and this cricket argument is just as obscure it will continue for years to come. It concerns the lbw law and it debates how much of the ball has to be outside the leg stump before an umpire is entitled to shake his head. ``As far as I am concerned, the line belongs to the bowler,'' says one wise man. In other words if any part of the ball pitches inside the rectangle the bowler may get an lbw decision. Another cricket thinker adds that as the area that lands on the pitch is comparatively small it is easy to judge whether that part of the ball is inside the line. At the moment, of course, no-one cares but in the next five to ten years television cameras will be capable of delivering a third umpire verdict in lbw appeals and it will be necessary to have a precise definition. Television technicians in this country make inquiries for the last four years but so far no one in power comes to any decision. Few people inside the game, including those who debate the laws regularly, seem to consider this matter important. In the end MCC, who still settle all questions about the Laws as well as revising them regularly, will need to make a decision.

June 17. The fans of the world's most famous soccer club are coming to terms with the sale of their superstar David Beckham to Real Madrid while down the road at cricket's Old Trafford thousands of Pakistani fans are preparing to invade the pitch and 100 security men are hoping to keep them on the terraces. A hopeless task as the well-remembered mullah with his white beard and glaring eyes addresses his troops in the manner of an officer ordering the infantry over the top in World War One. My knowledge of Urdu is limited but if ever I saw a man shouting ``The last one on the pitch is a sissy'' it is this character. Still, the scenario is so well understood that no-one is hurt. Abdul Razzaq takes a mighty swing at the second ball of the final over; he and his partner Mohammad Sami do not even wait to see if the ball goes for four. As the ball disappears into the first wave of pitch invaders, the batsmen head straight for the pavilion, closely followed by the umpires and fielders. The outnumbered security men are overwhelmed as thousands leap over the low fences and chase the fleeing cricketers. It's a big game really. Afterwards Michael Vaughan, the new England captain, makes ritual noises about the possibility of a player being hurt; but what can the England and Wales Cricket Board do to stop these stampedes which occur rarely and mainly when Pakistan are playing? Fuelled by the excitement of victory, these fans clearly mean no harm and in fact I have a joke with one or two as I make my way to the car park. It is all a good humoured, joyful occasion. It may be less jovial if Pakistan lose, as we see at Headingley when the England captain Alec Stewart concedes the match after a one-dayer. At the Oval a few days later there is no trouble and the staff think that when tickets sell-out in advance the spectators are less likely to cause mayhem.

June 18. Graham Morris, the internationally respected photographer, spends the morning after the first one-day international trying to get his head round the actions of security men who rush him out of the ground because he goes on to the roof to photograph the sunset. The Old Trafford authorities try to justify this heavy-handed treatment as a safety issue. Morris has the right passes and often acts as photographer for ECB's publications. Dermot Reeve, imaginative captain, innovative coach and now a commentator, also finds unexpected hurdles as he drives from home in Somerset. He rises early, ignores breakfast and heads off up the motorway to Old Trafford. Oh dear, the car — one of those powerful beasts so beloved of famous sportsmen — needs petrol. Reeve drives into a motorway filling station, fills the tank and sets off again when, without warning, his vehicle comes to a stop. He sends for the emergency men who tell him he puts diesel into his tank instead of unleaded petrol. He realises that he is now unlikely to reach Old Trafford on time; but when he rings Channel Four to explain his predicament he gets no sympathy. ''Get yourself here by any means possible,'' is the order and so he leaves his car behind for expensive repairs, hires a car at expensive rates and drives to Manchester as if he is on fire.

June 19. David English, once the manager of the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton, a companion for Ian Botham on the charity walks and a committed worker for charity himself, receives an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List to mark his many deeds for those worse off than himself. One of his recent money-raising efforts is called Make-A-Wish. It gives one last wish to terminally-ill children. I cannot think of anyone in cricket, including Botham, who has done more good work in the 20 years since I first meet this jolly, hardworking man who raises a total of eight million pounds for all his charities. Alec Stewart is also recognised for his services to cricket spread over the last 15 years; as well as being the subject of a This Is Your Life profile. Sadly for Alec he is no longer wanted in the one-day games by England or Surrey and threatens to turn out for a Surrey Wanderers side.

June 20. No-one ever doubts that Chris Adams, briefly an England batsman, now captain of Sussex, is a courageous cricketer; but to take on two men who tower above him as Angus Fraser and Derek Pringle do is bravery beyond the call of duty. Adams is upset by some reference to his skills in their newspaper columns and tells Fraser, 6ft 6in, and Pringle, 6ft 5in and 18st that he will "sort them out'' if it happens again. They are both impressed by his nerve, but left bemused by his thought processes.

June 21. Ehsan Mani, the new president of ICC, will save the world governing body a few pounds when he steps into the job vacated by the Australian Malcolm Gray. He lives among the rich folk in St. John's Wood, walking distance from the Lord's North Gate. The 58-year-old man from Rawalpindi earns enough in a business life to be able to devote his time to their sundry problems. If he can manage to talk his way out of the action for damages by Global Cricket Corporation arising from the World Cup's shortcomings he will begin his two years in the game's biggest job with many thanks from those who begin 2003 by thinking that event will bring untold cash. Those optimists may have be overall losers by the time the court action is finished.

June 22. Alec Stewart's successor Chris Read is the most impressive performer in the series against Pakistan: conceding only one bye in the first two matches, taking two catches competently and always in the right place for the ball to fall softly into his gloves. He is not yet 25 so it seems that when Stewart drops out of the Test scene too — possibly at the end of the summer — England will have a ready-made replacement. They will also have back-up from Mark Wallace of Glamorgan and James Foster of Essex, both with the potential to step into the Test side immediately. But wait a minute. The grapevine is also full of whispers about one Geraint Jones of Kent, 27, but a forceful batsman as well as a highly efficient keeper. Jones starts life in Papua New Guinea with Welsh parents and plays his early cricket in Australia although he is for selection purposes an Englishman. He makes his Kent debut two years ago but this year reports of his progress are amazing. "He will leapfrog the other contenders,'' says David Lloyd, ex-England coach turned commentator. It looks as if we are facing a summer of change, particularly if, as some suspect, Michael Vaughan is also captain of the Test team by the autumn. I also hear that Simon Jones, injured in Australia, is in the nets already. Will one Jones boy be bowling and another Jones boy be behind the stumps very shortly?