Michael Vaughan and the future of English cricket

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England take to the field with a new limited overs captain and a new-look team at the start of the NatWest Challenge against Pakistan.

While the laudable Nasser Hussain – possibly the most forward-thinking field marshall England have ever had – remains at the helm in the Test arena, the irrepressible Michael Vaughan has taken the reigns for the ODI team.

Vaughan’s tenure will be a crucial one.

At the beginning of the summer he was rated the number one batsman in the world (England’s first since the halcyon days of Graham Gooch) and as such he is largely believed to be the nations great white hope. A stint in charge of the ODI team could make this prophecy or break it.

For Vaughan to lead the new generation to success in a format that has always seemed a little alien to the game’s mother country would be a superb acheivement. The ECB has already issued a mission statement to the effect that England should be the best team in the world by 2007, but such objectives will not be easy – players like Jim Troughton, Chris Read and Rikki Clarke are massive talented but are unproven.

Conversely, were Vaughan to become a victim of that oldest of English traditions – gallant failure – we may see not only a less clear future for our bright young starlets but also a decrease in the form for our leading light. After all but destroying everything that was thrown at him in 2002 (even when it was thrown by the imperious Aussie’s Glenn Macgrath and Jason Gillespie) we must only hope that life at the top will not be marred for Vaughan as it was for two of his nearest predecessors.

First, Michael Atherton – an intelligent and talented player whose captaincy was sunk by the paucity of talent around him – and second, Hussain, whose job at the recent World Cup seemed more akin to that of politician than cricketer.

These are new and exciting times for any fan of English cricket and while we all embrace the anticipation of the present let us at the same time trust in Michael Vaughan to lead us to glory in the future.