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  Wednesday, 5 December, 2001, 12:21 GMT
Dawson seizes chance
Richard Dawson was unlucky not to dismiss Sourav Ganguly
James Foster fumbles a stumping chance
BBC Sport Online's Thrasy Petropoulos reflects on an encouraging display by young England off-spinner Richard Dawson in his first bowl in Test cricket.

As Indian captain Sourav Ganguly danced down the pitch and drove airily at a well-flighted off-break, Richard Dawson must have been anticipating his second Test scalp.

Moments later, however, expectation turned to anguish as James Foster snatched at the ball, turning a regulation stumping into yet another howler by an England fielder.

When his second wicket finally came through VVS Laxman carving to backward point, its value could only have been enhanced by Foster's blunder.

In all, England were guilty of four missed chances, two by the wicket-keeper and one each by Mark Butcher and Graham Thorpe, that granted the Indian's an extra 105 runs.

The personal cost to Dawson was being robbed of the distinction of being the first England spinner to take five-wicket haul on his Test debut since Peter Such took six Australia first-innings wickets at Old Trafford in 1993.

Richard Dawson finished with four for 134
Dawson was eventually rewarded for plugging away

Encouraging though they were, Dawson's figures of four for 134 would have been so much more impressive had Foster completed the stumping off Ganguly and Graham Thorpe not missed a sitter off Sanjay Bangar.

Bangar, clearly suffering from the nerves of a Test debutant and batting with a runner because of a hamstring injury, chipped a dolly to short cover where Thorpe cupped his hands, positioned himself solidly and then let it slip through his fingers.

Mark Butcher, standing at silly mid-off, covered his face in disbelief - not that he could talk after dropping a slip catch from Rahul Dravid off Andrew Flintoff the previous afternoon.

Taking matters into his own hands

That miss alone cost England 53 runs.

So when Dawson induced the next error from an Indian batsman - a top-edged sweep by Bangar that almost any England fielder could have caught, guess who called for the catch: the bowler, of course.

Predictably, it was pouched safely.

Dawson proceeded to add a further victim to his haul as Harbhajan Singh, who could teach his fellow off-spinner a lesson or two in cunning, was completely outfoxed.

A quicker arm-ball all-but yorked the batsman who was trapped leg-before, plumb in front off middle stump.

Former England spin bowler Peter Such
Peter Such made a sparkling debut in 1993

By bowling an attacking line of six inches outside off stump, and varying his pace and type of delivery intelligently, Dawson has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lacklustre England performance.

Most impressive is that that Dawson is only 21 and playing in only his 10th first-class match, having come into the Yorkshire side in June this year.

When Such took six for 67 against Australia he was a fortnight short of his 29th birthday and a seasoned veteran for Essex.

Similarly, Nick Cook was 27 when he took five for 35 and three for 90 on his Test debut to help bowl England to an innings victory against New Zealand at Lord's in 1983.

And Phil Edmonds, who had a dream start with a haul of five for 28 against Australia at Headingley, was 24.

Compare Dawson's debut of those of two of his finger-spinning rivals - Ashley Giles one for 106 from 36 overs against South Africa in 1998 and Robert Croft two for 116 from 47 against Pakistan in 1996 - and perhaps the news from Mohali is not all bad for England.

Whatever it is that Dawson has, let's hope it's catching.

Find out how the best spin bowlers in the world ply their trade
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See also:

12 Nov 01 | England on Tour
28 Aug 01 | Cricket
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