With a tear in his eyes and in a totally dignified online cricket id manner, Michael Vaughan waved goodbye to the England Cricket Captaincy, with it, probably went his last test appearance for his country. Vaughan has been one of the most successful Captains of recent times, winning over half his matches and of course captaining his country in the epic, closely fought 2005 Ashes victory over Australia. It was most certainly his greatest achievement and he thoroughly deserved the praise heaped upon him at the time. Vaughan had already relinquished the Captaincy of the One Day international side to Paul Collingwood, because frankly, he was not cutting it as a batsman any longer and it could be said that it is for the same reason that he has stood down as the Test Captain. He has averaged just 8 runs with the bat against the South Africans over the summer, which may go some way to explaining the decision to stand down.
Ironically it was against South Africa in 2003 that he first captained the side. He took over for the 2nd test, which England promptly lost but went then on to win two of the next four, thus claiming a drawn series. He went on to become England’s most successful Captain with 26 victories in 51 Tests.
While Vaughan was making his emotional departure, the news had reached the general public that ODI Captain Paul Collingwood had also stood down from his role and for a brief moment England’s cricket team had seemed to have been turned upside down. This was of course merely temporary as it quickly emerged that Kevin Pietersen would assume the helm of both forms of the game. Indeed England having been beaten by South Africa in the test series had immediately appointed a South African as England Captain – and why not!
Kevin Pietersen is the ideal dual Captain and is a player held in the highest esteem by his peers. He has a great depth of knowledge, learned more when growing up in South Africa and he appears fearless as an individual both on and off the pitch. There may be one or two disappointed players, who may have expected to be Vaughan’s and/or Collingwood’s replacement, such as ‘Freddie Flintoff’ and Andrew Strauss, but by and large, his appointment will be received with glee by the majority of people and most certainly the England cricket fans.
Hopefully Pietersen will be spared the wrath of the press if things do go wrong early, he is probably aware that the English press are the most spiteful in the world and would stop at nothing if they detect any weakness in Pietersen the man or Pietersen the cricketer.
It would be wonderful for the followers of English cricket to have Pietersen step up to the plate and become similar to one of those great international captains past and present, such as Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting and indeed Graeme Smith. It never ceases to amaze how the form of many English Captains, dips as soon as they become appointed. This was the case with the last three Captains, Atherton, Hussain and Vaughan. All three were batsman Captains and all three managed to lower their averages during their respective tenures. Let’s hope the same fate does not befall our new swashbuckling, South African-English Captain. With the ‘Stanford Twenty Twenty millions’ and the Ashes Series looming in 2009, Pietersen has every incentive to succeed and If he does the England team will enjoy similar adulations to those last experienced during the 2005 Ashes success where the country went cricket betting mad the players became household names overnight.