Monday, 11 October 2010

THHOF - Michael Vaughan

Name: Michael Vaughan
Nicknames: Vaughany, Virgil, MPV, Pie, Michael-Vaughan-my-lord-Michael-Vaughan
Born: October 29, 1974, Manchester, England
Teams: Yorkshire, England

Michael Vaughan is my first inductee into the Tyron Henderson Hall of Fame, because when I started following cricket, Michael Vaughan was the main man. Taking the one-day captaincy from Nasser Hussain after the 2003 World Cup, and later that year the test captaincy as well, Vaughan was my "first" England captain.

While many will remember Vaughan for his exploits as England skipper, it shouldn't be forgotten that he made history well before England recognition was even on the horizon. Born in Manchester (Lancashire), Vaughan's family moved to Sheffield (Yorkshire) when he was nine. Vaughan's father, a club cricketer, turned young Mike on to the sport, and his love of the game grew from there. However, Yorkshire's strict rule restricting anyone born outside of the county boundaries meant Vaughan would have been unable to represent the white rose, but when the ruling was removed, Vaughan was able to make his county debut (and was the first non-Yorkshireman to play for the county).

After working his way through England's youth sides (captaining England's Under-19s in 1993/4), Vaughan made his full England debut in the first test of the 1999 South Africa tour. Batting at number six, Vaughan was into the action almost immediately, as England were reduced to two for four wickets. Vaughan may have "only" scored 33, but his calm temprament and classy shotmaking earmarked him for further success.

In and out of the side due to injury, Vaughan made his position at the top of England's order his own, scoring 900 runs against Sri Lanka and India in 2002, before his seminal tour of Australia later that year. Scoring three hundreds in five tests (which England lost 4-1), Vaughan was the first Englishman in 32 years to score over 600 runs in a five match Ashes series in Australia. Vaughan scored 1,481 Test runs in 2002, the sixth highest for a calendar year in Test history, and took his place as the number one ranked batsman in the ICC rankings.

After England bowed out from the 2003 World Cup, Nasser Hussain stepped down, and was replaced by Vaughan, despite Vaughan's one day stats failing to match his test performances. After leading England to a triangular series victory, Vaughan scored 156 against South Africa at Edgbaston, and was appointed captain after Hussain stood down after that match. Vaughan led England to a draw in that series, as winning against Bangladesh (though losing to Sri Lanka).

2004 was a spectacular year for English cricket, much of it due to the captaincy of Vaughan. A 3-0 away win over the West Indies, followed by back-to-back whitewashes over New Zealand and West Indies at home was credited to Vaughan, who alongside Duncan Fletcher, had revolutionised English cricket, with a strict fitness and training regime, as well as the continuation of the central contract system. Beating South Africa away was also a milestone, as Vaughan had continued the growth and development of his team; ready to challenge for the Ashes.

The Ashes. England won. For the first time in 18 years. In the greatest series of them all. Vaughan played a vital role, both as a batsman and as a captain; in getting the best out of Freddie Flintoff. 2005 was the crowning achievement of Vaughan's career, and he will rightly be remembered for orchestrating so much of it.

However, sadly, it went a bit downhill from there. Given an OBE for his part in the Ashes victory, Vaughan's troublesome knee meant he wasn't able to play in India or Pakistan, and a knee operation the following summer led to him missing the 2006/7 Ashes debacle. Returning for the 2007 World Cup, Vaughan's poor one day form (he never scored an ODI century) led to his one day abdication, but after his great friend and coach Duncan Fletcher left, it was never the same. Under Peter Moores, Vaughan struggled, both as a player and as a captain, and losing series to India, Sri Lanka, and finally South Africa in 2008, Vaughan emotionally stood down as England captain - statistically the greatest ever man to lead England.

Vaughan bravely battled to recover his form, playing for Yorkshire in the summer of 2009, but after realising he wouldn't play a part in the Ashes, he retired from all forms of the game. Always articulate, Vaughan has begun to forge a career on TMS, and is surely not far from elevation into the Sky Sports Commentary Box For Ex-England Captains.

Vaughan was a fantastic man-manager and motivator as captain, and must have been fantastic to play under. His batting was superb, and his cover drive is one of the best I have ever seen. I have been lucky enough to meet Michael once, and he was both charming and kind to me; the perfect gentleman. For my formative years as a cricket fan, Michael Vaughan was England's captain, and I am honoured for him to be the first inductee into the Tyron Henderson Hall of Fame.

And for something that sums Vaughany up much more than my words, here's a video in tribute to the great man.

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