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Posts Tagged ‘michael vaughan’

The so-called ‘Langer dossier‘ detailing all of England’s failings (which, incidentally, Justin Langer almost certainly didn’t write) is getting a lot of coverage today – but it’s hardly full of revelations. In the words of Michael Vaughan, “If I had been asked to write a dossier on English cricket, I would have come up with many of the same points“.

Any English cricket fan could tell you that the team’s heads drop when they’re up against it, that Matt Prior and Graeme Swann have large egos and that Jimmy Anderson can fall apart when things aren’t going his way. Perhaps the dossier also contained suggestions that Pietersen rates himself highly and that Andrew Flintoff likes a beer or two.

A far more profound insight into the (lack of) mental strength of England’s cricketers could be gained purely by watching them bat in the current Test.

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Rumours have been circulating since the announcement of England’s ‘pre-Ashes’ squad that Michael Vaughan is set to call time on his cricketing career, and it seems that it’s about to happen.

Undoubtedly, Vaughan will be remembered chiefly for his acheivements as England captain, most famously regaining the Ashes in 2005, but he wasn’t a bad player either (at least until he was struck by the curse of the straight one). Enjoy some of his best moments below:

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Despite their central contracts, neither Steve Harmison nor Michael Vaughan were included in the England ‘pre-Ashes’ squad of 16 (not 17 as was reported at the weekend – does anyone know what went on there?) that was announced today. Although Geoff Miller has said that “[t]he door has not been closed on any player at this stage“, their exclusion more or less signals the end of both players’ hopes of featuring in the First Ashes Test in just over two weeks’ time.

Given that neither player really merits a place in the side at the moment, it isn’t a massive surprise that Harmison and Vaughan are both left out, but the selectors’ past loyalty to the stars of the 2005 series, along with the considerable investment made in both via their central contracts, had convinced many that there would be roles for both in the squad. Harmison does feature in the England Lions team to play Australia next week, but he is currently England’s sixth-choice pace bowler at best.

Amongst those who have been included, there number three spinners: Swann, Panesar and Rashid. The latter two are likely to be in direct competition for the role of second spinner now that Swann is well established in the side, and suggestions are being made in some quarters that Rashid’s superior batting ability may see him edge out Monty, something that would arguably portend the end of Panesar’s England career.

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After all the speculation about whether Bell, Key, Shah or Vaughan would be England’s number 3 batsmen against the West Indies, the collective gasp from the nation’s cricket writers was almost audible even outside of London as none of the aforementioned candidates even made it into the squad for the First Test.

Ravi Bopara is now expected to fill the third slot in the England’s batting order. Whilst I’m a fan of Bopara, he doesn’t strike me as a Test number three. It has always struck me as a little strange that Kevin Pietersen is so reluctant to bat at three, which suggests that he doesn’t rate himself against the new ball.

To think that Kevin Pietersen doesn’t rate himself at anything is so counter-inituitive that it makes my head hurt.

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Michael Vaughan missed another chance to prove his form ahead of the announcement of England’s sqaud to play the West Indies when he fell to fellow England outcast Steve Harmison for 24. Television replays suggested Vaughan may not have got a touch on the fatal ball, but the evidence from the single available angle was inconclusive.

The selectors almost seem to be looking for an excuse to pick Vaughan, so this score will frustrate them as well as their former captain. The number three spot is looking increasingly like it might end up being filled by Ian Bell, which is fine if he’s in form, but it’s only a matter if weeks since he was dropped, so it seems more likely that any recall would owe more to the lack of options available than to a belief that Bell has improved in the intervening period. Indeed, his attitude to being dropped suggests little or nothing has changed.

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England have delayed naming their Test squad for the series against the West Indies, because the selectors “need more time to assess players who are returning after injury”.

This gives the likes of Ian Bell and Michael Vaughan an extra nine days to impress, an effect which may not be entirely coincidental. The poor showing for the MCC by Vaughan, Bell and Rob Key means that there are few real candidates for the number three spot who are in any sort of form. Although Bell recently made 172 for Warwickshire, it is perhaps felt too soon to bring him back (even if he would clearly disagree). An extra week-and-a-bit may provide an opportunity for someone to play themselves into a ‘selectable’ position.

Another factor involved in the delay may be concerns over players picking up injuries in the IPL. Andrew Flintoff is reportedly already feeling the strain on his ankle after a mere 4 overs for the Chennai Super Kings, and it’s not difficult to imagine something happening to Collingwood or Pietersen in South Africa either (even if, in the latter’s case, the main injury threat may come from angry Saffer spectators).

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  • Durham surprised a lot of people with their Championship win last year, and with Steve Harmison out of favour with England once again, their bowling attack looks just as strong as it was in 2008. Ian Blackwell has come in to bolster the middle order and add a spin option, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns in June following the World Twenty20.
  • Hampshire arguably owe last year’s survival, let alone their eventual third place, to the spin bowling of Imran Tahir, who returns from June. In the meantime, Australian Marcus North comes in as an overseas player to add runs, and Dominic Cork also arrives following his release by Lancashire. Chris Tremlett will also be key for the attack, whilst Mascarenhas’ England and IPL commitments will drain the Rose Bowl’s resources for much of the season.
  • Lancashire have released Dominic Cork and Stuart Law, whilst Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson are likely to make very few appearances for their county, so the Red Rose lineup will be somewhat unfamiliar in places. Mark Chilton and Francois Du Plessis need to improve on last year’s performances with the bat, or relegation may threaten to make Peter Moores’ 2009 even worse.
  • Nottinghamshire may spend the majority of the season watching their three best bowlers ply their trade for England, so the likes of Shreck and Pattinson will be key. If Samit Patel gets fit enough to be called up as well, the side could look a little thin in the middle order, but if newlywed Adam Voges can translate his limited-overs form to the four-day game then the prospect of a title challenge isn’t too far-fetched to consider.
  • Somerset continue to have an incredibly strong top order (especially with and Marcus Trescothick as an opening pair), but with Ian Blackwell moving to Durham and Andy Caddick into his 40s, the bowling attack looks worryingly thin. Unless a young gun steps up to take wickets, a proliferation of draws may ensue.
  • Warwickshire face the step up from Division Two without Ian Salisbury, but Jeetan Patel should be a strong addition to their four-day side. If Ian Bell stays out of the England team long enough to feature regularly, then the Bears can reap the benefits. Similarly, Tim Ambrose will be a force in the County game even he doesn’t cut it at Test level.
  • Worcestershire enter the post-Hick era in 2009, which puts a lot of pressure on Vikram Solanki and the likes of Stephen Moore. Gareth Batty’s recent England call-up underlined his quality with the ball, but the pace attack is relatively weak, especially given Simon Jones’ continuing injury problems. If Solanki and Kabir Ali find form, then the side can look for more than just consolidation in their return to Division One.
  • Yorkshire came uncomfortably close to relegation last year, but players of the quality of Michael Vaughan, Anthony McGrath, Matthew Hoggard and Adil Rashid should see them improve in 2009 (assuming England call-ups don’t intervene). A championship challenge may be asking too much, and adjusting to life without Darren Gough will be difficult, but there is enough class (especially with Jacques Rudolph in the side) for a top-half finish.

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The start of the English County season is almost upon us, and the evidence arrived today with the naming of the MCC’s team to take on County Champions Durham in the traditional curtain-raiser. Most reports are highlighting the inclusion of former England captain Michael Vaughan in the side (alongside fellow England castaway Ian Bell), but it’s worth mentioning that the team will be captained by Rob Key, who hasn’t played Test cricket since January 2005.

Key’s continued absence from the main England side whilst simultaneously being viewed by the ECB as ‘reserve captain‘ (the ECB was involved in the selection of the MCC team, and Key has led the England Lions for some time) suggests that Vaughan is the most likely player in the team to play in this summer’s Ashes defeat series against Australia.

The MCC team in full is: Rob Key (c), Kabir Ali, Ian Bell, Steven Finn, James Foster, Sajid Mahmood, Stephen Moore, Adil Rashid, Michael Vaughan, Chris Woakes, Tom Westley

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Strangely for a player trying to find form, Michael Vaughan has played very little cricket over the winter. It may be that his central contract prevented him from playing in a Southern Hemisphere domestic competition, or that he ‘needed some time away from cricket’, but his last First-class match was way back in September, when he made a whopping 14 for Yorkshire against Somerset.

In any case (and leaving aside the question of whether the rest has done the trick, or the pitches out in Abu Dhabi are merely flatter than Norfolk), he’s finally back in the runs. The former England captain tonked 115 from 113 balls for his county as they beat Surrey in their opening match of the pre-season Pro ARCH Trophy out in the UAE.

There was more good news for the expert proponent of the textbook forward defensive with cartwheeling stump recently, when Duncan Fletcher came out in support of Vaughan returning to the Test side at number three. Whilst this is about as newsworthy as ‘Man drinks Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day‘, I’m sure Vaughan was pleased to see his name appear in a newspaper other than the Yorkshire Post.

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Andrew Strauss hasn’t played a limited overs international since April 2007, but tonight he leads England in a Twenty20 international against a West Indies side superficially similar to the Stanford Superstars team that beat England by 10 wickets back when Allen Stanford was more likely to be asked ‘is it fun being a millionaire?‘ than ‘how do you plead?‘.

Cricinfo’s preview of tonight’s match expects Ian Bell to open the batting for England alongside Strauss. Yes, that’s right, Ian Bell.

England have never quite managed to get their Twenty20 opening partnership right. They have tried the following in the last four years: Geraint Jones and Marcus Trescothick, Strauss and Trescothick, Trescothick and Bell, Ed Joyce and Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook and Matt Prior, Prior and Darren Maddy, Prior and Luke Wright, Maddy and Vikram Solanki, Wright and Phil Mustard, and Bell and Wright. That’s 10 different partnerships in a mere 14 matches.

I doubt that Bell and Strauss are the solution, but I will graciously suspend judgement until, ooh, maybe the fifth over of tonight’s match.

UPDATE: It now seems that England will try another opening pair – Steve Davies and Ravi Bopara. They seem more like a Twenty20 opening pair than Strauss and Bell, so let’s hope for some success.

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Everyone seems to be weighing in with their opinions on what the outcome of the evident rift between England’s captain, Kevin Pietersen, and coach Peter Moores. David Gower, himself no stranger to disagreements with his (and whilst he was) captain, reckons KP will be the outright winner, which seems to make sense given how reliant England are on their imported superstar. There’s already speculation about Moores’ potential successor.

Nasser Hussain, another former England captain who is currently employed by Sky, agrees, saying that Moores will either have to quit, or back down on what seems to be the key issue – the inclusion or otherwise of Michael Vaughan in the England side.

A ‘dressing room source’, meanwhile (perhaps Harry Redknapp’s ketchup?), claims that “The ECB are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they back KP, then there’s massive problems among the backroom staff…if they go with the coach, then the best player becomes disillusioned [and] they possibly lose a captain“, which doesn’t sound like a recipe for much-needed pre-Ashes harmony and togetherness either way.

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Either England’s selectors have come to their senses, or the crazed combination of staunch conservatism and random stick-a-pin-in-Playfair changes has accidentally happened upon something approaching reason.

Not only is Michael Vaughan, who was given a central contract as part of the ECB’s continuing commitment to 2005 nostalgia, not included in the squad for the strangely logical reason that he is in poor form, but no less than two of my Ones to Watch have been selected to tour the Windies – Adil Rashid for the Test side, and Steve Davies in the One-Day squad.

What’s next? Batsmen being dropped for not making runs? An acceptance that Alastair Cook is not a Twenty20 opener?

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