18 June 2007

Vaughan to bow out of ODIs

If Michael Vaughan is to announce his retirement from ODIs as has widely been speculated today, then in my opinion it's really sad news. I remember watching the last match of the Commonwealth Bank Series group stages in Australia in the winter, when England had to beat New Zealand to get into the final against Australia. Vaughan was masterful that night, and England's win was more to do with him than any other player, despite Collingwood's brilliant 106. With New Zealand cruising after 10 overs at 64-0 chasing England's 270, he didn't take the powerplay but still attacked bringing on Panesar. Panesar duly took the wicket of Lou Vincent and the game swang back in England's direction as Vaughan maintained the pressure throughout with well thought out fielding placements and bowling changes. Vaughan scored 0, but he won the game for England as far as I was concerned.

The captain's decisions don't always go right but Vaughan gets more things right than anyone else in England by a huge margin. So much as I sing Collingwood's praises and will continue to do so, to make him skipper of the ODI side will be a step into the unknown versus what we could have had - the equal best skipper in the world with Mihale Jayawardene. No - I don't think the likes of Ponting or Smith come close, and Fleming has now retired from ODIs. I presume that if Vaughan does step down, Collingwood will get the nod - Pietersen is getting talked about but I presume that is just poor press speculation trying to make a story where there is none.

Who is going to come in and replace Vaughan as an opener? Ed Joyce? Hardly inspires confidence. Mal Loye? Well if you think Vaughan is past it and his fielding may be exposed, then Mal Loye is surely unselectable. Marcus Trescothick - will his head go again? Ian Bell - let's not repeat mistakes from the past. Alastair Cook - definitely the best option but unproven in ODIs and doesn't set the world alight with his fielding. I presume the other openers slot will go to Matt Prior.

So if England go into the ODI series v West Indies lead by Collingwood, I'll be very happy for the ginger northerner, but I can't help feeling that England are taking a step backwards.