Thursday, July 02, 2009

Vaughan finally succumbs to the final straight one

I was wondering whether to make note of the retirement of Michael Vaughan, former captain of Yorkshire.

I decided not. Then looked at the news, and promptly reassessed.

Vaughan will be remembered for his innovative and creative explanations for missing the straight one. Although the Lancaster Turncoat found success early in his career – averaging over 70 in his first series against the Australians – once he was “found out”, the glory faded.

In past decades, his weakness probably wouldn’t have been spotted. But in an era of in-depth video analysis and bulging teams of backroom boffins, his inability to hit a straight ball, that doesn’t deviate upon pitching on a true bounce, was eventually unearthed.

Baffled by this minor fault, Vaughan would often be seen prodding the treacherous earth, shaking his head and muttering about fickle fingers of fate as the mighty king was castled once again.

My favourite moment in the 2005 was seeing the English captain completely bewildered by one of Brett Lee’s unnerving straight ones. There was a period where Vaughan could lay bat on ball against Jacob Oram’s terrifying lack of movement.

The final excuse came yesterday:

“Two weeks ago in the garden with my little lad Archie he bowled a ball that hit a weed and knocked my off stump out.”

It is surprising how such a talent has been blighted by an unusual amount of rogue weeds. Presumably, they’ve organised a union to conduct a campaign of anti-Vaughanist flying pickets.

I am informed that his the “most successful captain ever”. In an era of manifold matches and guaranteed results, it’s difficult to compare his success to former captains – especially good ones.

Moreover, since most of his “genius” plans to oust certain batsman were informed by a tax-payer draining mega-group of backroom analysts, it is hard to isolate Vaughan’s influence on the game. Especially since commentators attribute brilliance every time a captain moves a fielder.

In fact, the test of a captain is how he handles a weakened team – this quality, for instance, defines Stephen Fleming as one of the game’s great leaders. When Vaughan was blessed with a penetrative four-man pace attack, England won. Yet, in later years, when then bowling lost its edge, so did their captain.

We can ascribe responsibility to Vaughan for England’s “go-slow” strategy at the World Cup. But, if we do so, it is only far to credit him with England’s glorious streak of victories that culminated in the reclamation of the Ashes. The years proceeding 2005, saw a tremendous stretch of success and skill, all helmed by Vaughan. For that, I suppose we must say “good job”, and other such things.

In other news, Australian sporting prowess has further sunken into the pit of oblivion. Late-on Hewed lost at Wimbledon. Which is just as well, as he would have been beaten by a Britisher in the semis – that or spank a Scot.


Krish said...

He didn't do too shabby even with a weakened team. They would have won/drawn against India in England if it weren't for rain.

Should have probably quit while the going was good.

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