Cricket Expert & Columnist
A terrific template
Michael Vaughan was a classy role-model both as a captain and a batsman, says Nasser Hussain.
Last Updated: 10/07/09 9:05am
Michael Vaughan's timing - just as it was at the crease - is spot on if he does announce his retirement on Tuesday.
Michael has always been a fighter - as his very first Test innings in 1999 showed - and part of me thought he might play on and delay his decision until the end of the Ashes even though I couldn't see him batting on beyond that series.
But after failing to win selection for England's training squad and the England Lions, and with his body giving way, now is the right time to go because it allows the side to move on.
With the Ashes coming up, England cannot afford confusion and uncertainty in the camp. Shane Warne has already stirred the pot by questioning Ravi Bopara's big-match mentality.
The last thing Bopara and his captain Andrew Strauss need is Vaughan's shadow hanging over the squad and when things aren't going right for people to say 'Vaughan would have done it like this or that'.
So all credit to Michael for making the decision before the series starts; I've the utmost respect for everything he has done for England. He was a joy to watch bat and became an exceptional leader of men.
Tuesday will be a sad day for him and the first couple of weeks away from cricket will hurt, as I know from personal experience, but then you get on with the rest of your life. Michael has got a young family and he'll be successful in whatever he does because he is that sort of guy.
My impression that Michael was a quality batsman were instantly confirmed when he made his Test debut against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1999.
He came in with us 2-2 on a nightmare, wet wicket against Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock and very soon we were 2-4. Michael might have only got 33 but it was the way he did it that sticks with me because he looked so composed at the crease.
Sure, he only averaged 37 in first-class cricket across his career but that innings showed me we had a high-quality person and player in our ranks who could handle the big occasion well.
When he first came into the dressing room I knew I wouldn't have to worry about him; he looked after his own game and was always prepared; in short he was a class act.
If you want to make a template for an international batsman then you should turn to Vaughan and the same goes for an international captain.
When I first handed over the captaincy to him both Duncan Fletcher and I were worried about Michael's tactical ability and he himself will admit that to start with he captained by committee but it was amazing how quickly he adapted and grew into the role.
Some of his fielding positions were unorthodox but there were times when everything he touched turned to gold.
Different eras need different styles of captains. Under me, England were plodding along and they needed someone to be bit aggressive, to shout at them and find out why they weren't performing.
But Michael, with the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Marcus Trescothick, Ashley Giles and Steve Harmison, had to go about things in a calmer manner and get players to express themselves yet still be firm and in control.
You never doubted that Vaughan was in full control. Whoever called him an iron fist in a velvet glove was spot on.
It's my view that he became England's best post-war captain - certainly he was up there with the likes of Peter May and Mike Brearley. He commanded respect and got respect from every other opposition captain and player.
I couldn't have wished for a better bloke to hand the captaincy over to. He continued that forward momentum with Fletcher and I'm sure Fletcher was the first one on the phone to him to thank him for all of the work he did. They were a good team.
He will always be remembered for leading England to the Ashes in 2005 and rightly so. He led his team against an awesome Australia side that was one of the best teams to ever play Test match cricket and he captained England to victory.
That is his legacy - he is an Ashes winning captain. England don't have too many of those!
But his captaincy should not overshadow his batting. As captain on the 2002/03 Ashes tour it was a joy for me to watch him score all those runs, especially the three big hundreds, and the manner in which he got them.
Even the Australian crowd admired the way he scored those centuries, which speaks volumes in itself.