| Michael Vaughan exults after completing his century in Adelaide Thursday. (AFP)
Adelaide: Michael Vaughan scored his first Test hundred against Australia on Thursday only to fall in the last over of the day as England’s cricketers finally enjoyed some good luck on their troubled Ashes tour.
Vaughan survived a series of extraordinary let-offs to make 177 as England piled on 295 for four on the opening day of the second Test at the Adelaide Oval. England captain Nasser Hussain also enjoyed some good fortune to score 47 after the Australians dropped five catches and missed a run out in an uncharacteristically sloppy fielding performance.
Vaughan was dropped three times, got the benefit of the doubt to a catch the Australians were convinced was good and was almost run out before finally being dismissed off what proved to be the last delivery of the day.
The Yorkshire opener made the most of his escapes to register his sixth career Test hundred and his fifth this year with an otherwise polished display on a wicket tailor-made for batting. He missed out on a Test double for the third time this year after twice getting into the 190s against India.
England, outclassed in the first Test, have stumbled from one crisis to the next on tour, with a mounting injury toll preventing them fielding their best line-up. They suffered another blow when John Crawley was ruled out of the second Test before the start of play with bruising and almost lost Vaughan when he twisted his ankle during warm-up.
But their luck changed when Vaughan was passed fit and Hussain won an important toss to give his side first use of a flat and lifeless pitch that is not expected to deteriorate until the weekend. Vaughan got his first big break on 19 when he was given the benefit of the doubt by the video umpire after Justin Langer claimed a low catch at point off paceman Andy Bichel.
The 28-year-old stood his ground while the third umpire Steve Davis watched several replays. Despite protestations from Langer that he had taken the catch before his hands touched the ground, Davis ruled that the replays were inconclusive.
Vaughan’s good fortune continued when he was dropped by Shane Warne at slip on 56, then again on 66 when he mistimed a shot off Jason Gillespie only to see the ball fall between two fielders.
He survived and went on to bring up his hundred off 175 balls in 205 minutes, punching the air in delight as he scampered through for two runs off Bichel. Vaughan had another escape immediately after reaching his ton when Steve Waugh missed a chance to run him out and yet another when Bichel got a hand to a low return drive on 151.
All the while he continued to pile on the runs, reaching 150 for the third time in his last five matches with a boundary, before his luck finally deserted him in the last over when he edged Bichel to Warne at first slip.
Warne held the catch as stumps were drawn and Vaughan, whose Test average edged above 50 during his innings, left to a standing ovation after an innings that spanned 306 balls in 371 minutes and featured 22 fours and three sixes.
Hussain also enjoyed a fair slice of good luck, surviving two dropped catches to get within three runs of a second half-century in the series, less than a week after his wife gave birth to a baby son in Perth. The Essex skipper was dropped by Damien Martyn at slip on 13 then by Warne, also at slip, on 35, before he was dismissed with the total on 246, caught by Adam Gilchrist after getting a faint bottom-edge to a ball from Warne.
Hussain and Vaughan put on 140 in 161 minutes for the third wicket after the tourists lost two quick wickets either side of the lunch break. Marcus Trescothick went just before lunch for 35 with the total on 88 when he dragged a short delivery from Glenn McGrath back onto his stumps.
The left-handed opener also had a let-off when he was dropped on 18 by Matthew Hayden in the gully but failed to make the most of his second life. Robert Key also missed out on the chance of making a big score when he departed for one.
Key was called into the Test side as Crawley’s replacement after making an unbeaten 174 against Australia A last weekend but scratched just one run in 39 minutes before driving a ball from Warne into Ricky Ponting at silly point.
Butcher was pushed down to number five after suffering a migraine headache but came to the crease after the departure of Hussain, batting 72 minutes to reach stumps unbeaten on 22.