5 July 2012

Michael Vaughan

I have recently read Michael Vaughan's autobiography and it is a very interesting read. However, I get the feeling from his book that he thinks he was a better player than he actually was. Additionally, I always thought the media overrated him too.

So how good was the former England captain? His international career lasted from 1999 - 2008, where he scored 16 centuries (which is excellent), but his average was a mere 41. In the modern era that is not good enough. If you look closer, he averaged 31 between 1999 and the start 2002 English summer. He then has a golden 6 months, against India, and then in Australia where he averaged a mammoth 76, scoring 7 centuries. However, from January 2003 until his last Test in 2008, he averaged just 36 over 54 matches!

When we think of Vaughan we think of the Ashes 2005, but he only averaged 32! And that was thanks to one major score at Old Trafford where he scored 166. He was extremely lucky in that innings too, as he was dropped on 41, and bowled off a no-ball the very next delivery (so his average could easily have been 20 in that series).

And his presence in the ODI side was an embarrassment. He held back England's progress in this form of the game, and he does not admit to this in his book. He still maintained he was good enough, even after 2007 World Cup debacle. In 86 matches, he averaged 27, with a strike rate of 68, where he batted in the top 3 for most of the time. How was he allowed to do this?

Owais Shah and Robert Key were never given these kind of extended opportunities!
In summary, Vaughan had 6 good months in Test Cricket, and he lived off that run for the rest of his career. He fails to acknowledge this in his autobiography. He talks about how important "character" is to play for England; whilst this is true, you still need the stats to back it up, which Vaughan did not seem too concerned about, which was lucky for him considering how poor his figures were for most of the time he was in an England shirt.
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Andrew said...

Batting averages have definitely inflated in the past 15 years, but describing a test batting average of 41 as 'not good enough' is a bit harsh.

I do agree though, that his reputation owes a lot to his golden spell in 2002-3.

Ed said...

I'd argue that his reputation wasn't just down to that 6 month period, but also down to the fact that he was a great captain. The reason I think of Vaughan when I think of the 2005 Ashes is some of the tactics: 2 catching on the drive for Hayden when Hoggard was bowling and leaving sweepers out when Australia's last pair crept to within a couple of runs of winning at Edgbaston (not something I agreed with at the time).

After a long time out with injury he had a dramatic impact when he captained the ODI side in Australia after the 2006/07 Ashes. Admittedly he was taking over from the worst English captain in my lifetime (Flintoff), but it was amazing what some attacking tactics could do... Panesar was a new man being brought on to take wickets before the powerplay was over. Of course injury struck again, but England won that 3-way series beating Australia in the final.

Interesting to note that his average was 51 when not captain and 36 when he was. I reckon his tactics were (comfrotably) worth more than those lost 15 runs per innings.

Looking at his batting average against those it's fair to compare against he stands out - Hussain was 37, Atherton 38, Strauss 42.

So a great captain and decent batsman. Overall a very high quality England player.

Andrew said...

Agreed on the value of his captaincy. Hard to quantify in numbers, but I don't think England win the 2005 Ashes with Trescothick as captain, as would have been the case had Vaughan not been on the scene.

Ed said...

And just think what an average side he was captaining, compared to the great Australian side they were playing against....

Andrew said...

Everyone was average when compared to that side, but I think that was actually a pretty good England side - second best in the world probably, but one that had a relatively short peak.