Posts Tagged ‘vaughan’

Harmison back in England squad

August 6, 2008

evin Pietersen has unveiled an attacking line-up for his first match as England captain, against South Africa at The Oval, with two key changes from the side that lost the third Test, and the series, at Edgbaston last week.

As widely predicted, Steve Harmison returns for his first outing since the defeat against New Zealand at Hamilton in March, as a replacement for Ryan Sidebottom who was noticeably off the pace in the last match after missing the second Test with a back injury.

Also recalled is Stuart Broad, who had been expected to miss out to give Ravi Bopara his second chance to cement a role as a Test batsman, after a torrid debut series in Sri Lanka in December. Instead, Broad’s prowess with the bat has been acknowledged, and he will slot into a potent lower-middle order which begins with Andrew Flintoff moving up one position to No. 6.

Following Michael Vaughan’s resignation and withdrawal from this Test, Ian Bell moves up from No. 5 to the No. 3 position that he has long coveted, with Paul Collingwood – England’s centurion at Edgbaston – reverting to his former position at No. 5.

After the rumours about his strained relationship with Moores, Pietersen was keen to emphasise how much co-operation had gone on between the two men in the selection of the side, although it was left to the coach to inform Bopara of his omission. But once the team takes the field at The Oval on Thursday morning, there’s no question who is going to be in charge.

For all his bravado, there are several aspects of the leadership that will still be a mystery to Pietersen come Thursday morning. He had put little thought to where he himself will be fielding, for instance, and though he was looking forward with pride to the moment he walks out to toss up with Graeme Smith, he admitted that he has little idea about how to read a pitch.

“It’s something I will definitely have to improve on,” he said. “I’ve always believed that if you win the toss and you want to bat, you bat. If you don’t think you’re sure, you still bat, and if you’re really not sure, you think for ten seconds then you still bat again. That’s what I’ve been told, but I’ve never been a captain in a Test match.”

All that is about to change, as England prepare to launch their new era. “It hasn’t really sunk in properly yet, but I’ve got to do the simple things right,” said Pietersen. “I’ve been under pressure ever since I came to England eight years ago, but I know what a great honour this is, and I’m going to give it a real good go. If I make a success of it, I make a success of it, but if I don’t I’ll be man enough to know I’ve got to go back and bat.”

England

1 Andrew Strauss

2 Alastair Cook

3 Ian Bell

4 Kevin Pietersen (capt)

5 Paul Collingwood

6 Andrew Flintoff

7 Tim Ambrose (wk)

8 Stuart Broad

9 Steve Harmison

10 James Anderson

11 Monty Panesar

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

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Vaughan steps down as captain

August 4, 2008

Michael Vaughan has resigned as England captain following the series defeat against South Africa, which was sealed by the five-wicket loss at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The decision was announced during a hastily arranged press conference at Loughborough even though yesterday evening Vaughan said he “would let the dust” settle on the defeat.

Paul Collingwood has also stood down as one-day captain, meaning that England will announce a new captain for both forms of the game on Monday. The frontrunner is Kevin Pietersen, who is a fixture in both teams. Collingwood is currently serving a four-match suspension for a slow over-rate.

An emotional Vaughan said he felt the time was right to go and will take some time out of the game and won’t play in the final Test at The Oval, though he remains available for selection for future England contests.

“It’s the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but also the easiest,” said Vaughan. “I put my heart and soul into the job but if I kept on going my career could have come to an abrupt end. I think this decision will prolong my career.

It brings an end to Vaughan’s 51-match run as captain, four games short of becoming England’s long-serving leader, although his 26 victories makes him, statistically, the most successful captain.

However, the pressure on Vaughan has been growing in recent months despite back-to-back series victories against New Zealand. The series loss to South Africa is England’s third in five series, dating back to the 1-0 reversal against India last summer. They then lost by the same margin in Sri Lanka before losing the first Test against New Zealand in Hamilton. Vaughan led a shake-up of the team by dropping Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison and England hit back to take the series, but the performances were not convincing.

Adding to the stress on Vaughan has been his own lack of runs. He has made 40 in five innings against South Africa, consistently being troubled by the pace bowlers, and his last ten Test have produced just one century and an average of 22.

He took on the role against South Africa in 2003, following Nasser Hussain’s resignation which also came after an Edgbaston Test. His first Test in charge, at Lord’s, was a thumping innings defeat, but he subsequently secured victories at Trent Bridge and The Oval as England shared the series.

The defeats in the past two weeks at Headingley and Edgbaston were the first time he has lost back-to-back Tests and a hallmark of his reign as captain was how England could bounce back from defeats. His finest moment was the 2005 Ashes victory, although he was also at the helm for historic away successes against West Indies in 2004 and South Africa in 2005.

– About Cricket –
Sandesh Kumar Jaggi