/ 18 April 2007

Vaughan’s one-day captaincy under threat

Michael Vaughan took the acclaim when he led England to their 2005 Ashes triumph. Now the same fans greet his name with boos.

England’s World Cup elimination on Tuesday brought into focus the woeful batting form of skipper Vaughan, who struggled through the premier limited-overs event and compiled just 130 runs in nine innings.

Vaughan has never effectively transferred his Test batting success to the one-day version. But his stuttering form during the World Cup did little to lift an ailing England side badly in need of direction.

”My batting has not been good in one-day cricket,” said Vaughan, who has now kept England waiting for his maiden one-day century for 85 matches.

Vaughan, who has been plagued by knee injuries during the past 15 months, on Tuesday defended his captaincy even as he conceded that his place in the limited-overs squad might be under threat.

”I’m a very honest guy who says my position in the team is hugely under doubt due to my batting,” Vaughan told reporters.

”But I still believe I’m a very good captain; I’m not retiring. Honestly, we as an England team have had a very disappointing six months, a poor winter in all aspects.”

Vaughan said England’s disappointing show extended from the Champions Trophy in October to this World Cup performance, and it included a 5-0 Ashes drubbing by Australia.

”We went to the Ashes with high expectations, but lost 5-0. The one-day series win saw us return home smiling and hoping we had a chance in the World Cup,” Vaughan said.

”To be knocked out of the World Cup in the circumstances we were isn’t acceptable. It’s a very sad day for English cricket, it’s a horrible feeling. We’ve let quite a lot of people down.”

Vaughan accepted that England’s debacle would be assessed by the authorities.

”I’m not stupid to think that it’s not going to be an area of concern,” Vaughan said. ”It’s not about Michael Vaughan and coach Duncan Fletcher, it’s about leading the team forward.”

Vaughan said Fletcher, whose future is also in doubt, was an outstanding coach, who still had a lot to contribute to English cricket.

England’s batsmen continued their faltering display on Tuesday, being bundled out for 154 in 48 overs and Vaughan then watched in dismay as South Africa romped to a nine-wicket victory with more than 30 overs to spare.

The victory secured South Africa the last semifinal spot, joining defending champions Australia, former title winners Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Walking off with their heads hanging and shoulders drooping, England’s cricketers were on Tuesday booed off the field by the spectators, many of them their own supporters.

Accepting that England’s team had let its fans down, Vaughan said ”getting booed” was a strange experience for him.

”You don’t expect to be cheered off the park after giving a poor performance,” he said. ”I fully understand the fans’ frustration. It was a massive tournament and we haven’t produced the performance.”

Outplayed in what was a must-win game to keep alive their hope of making the World Cup semifinals, England now have just two wins in five Super Eight outings.

But England’s batting was also tentative, even in those victories over unheralded Ireland and Bangladesh. When it came to facing the major contenders, Vaughan’s team lost to Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa, having already been beaten by New Zealand in the group stage.

England’s selectors have been reluctant to split the captaincy between Test and one-day teams. The dilemma will need a quick resolution as England will soon be playing a home series against the West Indies comprising both Tests and one-dayers, starting next month. — Sapa-AP