If Sachin Tendulkar was not such an unassuming cricket legend, the umpire who is generally rated the best in the world might just have heard something close to the growling breath of the great W G Grace.
The good doctor's famous declaration, after suffering what he considered a wrong and impertinent dismissal, was that the great crowd had come to watch him bat rather than some wretched umpire get it wrong. Support for such a sentiment, even among some of England's staunchest supporters, surely reached into every corner of this historic ground yesterday when the Australian Simon Taufel ruled that a delivery from Paul Collingwood would have hit Tendulkar's off stump had it not first collided with the Little Master's pad.
This was plainly wrong - and particularly unfortunate for two reasons. One, and most important, was that Tendulkar had batted with beautiful certainty to get within nine runs of still another record - his 38th Test century.
The other was that Collingwood, for all his virtues of professional zeal, would normally wake up and apologise if he even dreamt that he might just beat a Tendulkar who had played himself to the point of draining the life out of an England team which had supposedly healed the wounds inflicted so deeply in Australia last winter and the World Cup in the spring. In fact, long before the Tendulkar breakthrough - India were 342 for 3 at the time, 144 ahead on first innings - the new, and so far winning, England coach Peter Moores must have been experiencing his own private moment of truth.
It was that while England were able to mop up the sadly diminished West Indians easily enough, any assumption that they are now back in rude competitive health has to be considered premature.
As they now fight a hugely uphill battle against going 1-0 down to a team three places below them in the world rankings - and their first home series defeat since they were eviscerated by Steve Waugh's Australians six years ago - Moores has to be concerned about what can only be described as a parody of emotional equilibrium.
This, after all, is the team who for two days now have been generating the kind of sledging, body-language aggression that any self-respecting Aussie would probably suggest might be most appropriately dressed in a girl's blouse.
There wasn't much of even this pale version of battling commitment when Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly (79) and V V S Laxman (54) stretched the Indian lead to 283 before England faced 16 overs in the evening sunshine. But then it erupted, on schedule, when the Indian tail-enders began to appear, Kevin Pietersen provoking both umpires into a complaint to the temporary captain Andrew Strauss when he greeted the first-innings bowling hero Zaheer Khan at the crease with an abusive volley.
England's defence is that they are still smarting over their failure to nail down victory before darkness came to Lord's in a first Test they believed they had done more than enough to win.
They also feel that the flying start to the Indian first innings provided by Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer was substantially helped by the kind of umpire error which sent back both Tendulkar and Ganguly yesterday. Result: an unconvincing bowling performance yesterday that was redeemed mainly by the aggressive instincts of Ryan Sidebottom. The hirsute hustler is never likely to win any style awards, but when he isn't giving a poor man's version of paceman histrionics he bowls with great spirit and application, and when he …