The duel between Michael Atherton and Allan Donald in the 1998 Trent Bridge Test between England and South Africa is one of the most celebrated batsman-bowler battles in cricket history.
The Proteas were 1-0 up going into the game, the fourth of five Tests, and set England 247 to win to take it to a decider. The hosts had made a solid start to their chase, reaching 82-1, and Donald was into his ninth over and beginning to crank up the pace when the fateful moment came, Atherton gloving behind only for umpire Steve Dunn to turn down the appeals.
On a Sky Sports Watchalong, reliving the tete-a-tete with Donald and Nasser Hussain, his batting partner that day, Atherton could only cover his face at the reprieve. “I’m almost embarrassed to be watching this,” he said. “Oh my god.”
Atherton was reminded of another famous Trent Bridge umpiring mistake, when Stuart Broad nicked to first slip via the gloves of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin in the first Ashes Test in 2013. “Mine’s probably worse than Broady’s,” he said. “I can remember when it smashed into my glove, I almost started to walk, and just for whatever reason I thought ‘No, just stay there’. Ridiculous. Good old Steve Dunn.”
While Donald would continue to rough up the England opener time and again on the fourth evening, Atherton would make the most of his reprieve, finishing on 98 not out as England sealed victory by eight wickets. They would also win the final game of the series, securing their first triumph in a five-Test series in more than 10 years.