Vaughan Born to be England Captain: Flintoff

Birmingham, Jun 30:
Michael Vaughan was lauded by Andrew Flintoff as someone "born to be England captain" as the former skipper prepared to announce his retirement from senior cricket.

Vaughan, 34, is to hold a news conference here at Edgbaston later on Tuesday where it is anticpiated he will call time on his career after struggling for several years with a persistent knee injury and failing to win a place in England's squad for the Ashes series which starts next week in Cardiff.

England's 2005 Ashes was the high point of Vaughan's time in charge of England, with his knee problem leaving him sidelined for months at a time.

Unsurprisingly, his form as a batsman - which had seen him touch the realms of greatness during the 2002/03 tour of Australia when he made three hundreds - also began to decline.

He resigned the England captaincy in tears in August last year after the home series against South Africa was lost and has not played for England since.

Vaughan was England's most successful Test captain in terms of overall wins, with 26 victories, 11 defeats and 14 draws in his five-year spell in charge after he replaced Nasser Hussain at the helm in 2003.

All-rounder Flintoff, the star of England's Ashes triumph four years ago told reporters on Monday at Edgbaston - where the team face Warwickshire in an Ashes warm-up match starting on Wednesday - that Vaughan had been a class act.

"Playing under 'Vaughanie', I probably had the best moments of my career so far," Flintoff said.

"He got the best out of me. As a captain, he was someone you obviously admire and respect. He's England's best ever captain statistically and not a bad batter as well.

"All these things make 'Vaughanie' one of the greats of our game."

Flintoff added composure was key to the Yorkshire batsman's captaincy.

"As a captain he was unflappable. He stood at mid-off and whether the opposition were 500 for none or 90 for nine, there could be mayhem ensuing around him but 'Vaughanie' would just be stood there as always.

"I think that rubbed off on the rest of the team and we played our best cricket under him."

When Vaughan was ruled out of the 2006/07 tour of Australia, Flintoff replaced him as captain in an Ashes series where England were whitewashed 5-0.

Flintoff admitted he'd lacked Vaughan's temperament, saying: "It's hard to remain like that when things aren't going your way. It's something I struggled with but Vaughanie was born to be England captain."

Kevin Pietersen, recalling one of his earliest England appearances in 2004 when he found himself facing a hostile crowd in Johannesburg during a One-Day International against his native South Africa, said Vaughan had given him valuable advice.

"Michael Vaughan was huge to me. I remember one of the first things he said to me, coming in at The Wanderers to play South Africa in that huge series when 60,000 people were looking as if they were going to kill me," Pietersen said.

"He walked up to me in the middle of the wicket and said 'The ball is white; the ball is round, you know what you've done to get here, just watch it as hard as you can'.

"That calmed me right down, from being a gibbering wreck walking on to that field to the player that I am now because that's all I do now, watch the ball."

Australia vice-captain Michael Clarke said Vaughan was as admired by his opponents as he was by his team-mates.

"He was a wonderful cricketer, a wonderful captain for England for a long time. I know all the guys in our changing room certainly respect him."

Desperate for one last series against Australia, Vaughan vowed to regain his place through sheer weight of runs but so far this season he has managed just 147 runs in seven County Championship innings for Yorkshire.

Meanwhile the emergence of Ravi Bopara, who this year has made hundreds in three successive Tests against the West Indies, at No 3, also dented Vaughan's hopes of a recall.

Vaughan scored 5,719 Test runs in 82 matches at an average of 41.44 with 18 hundreds and a best of 197 against India at Trent Bridge in 2002. 


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