Still a 'small window of opportunity' October 5, 2006

Vaughan refuses to rule out Ashes return

Cricinfo staff

Michael Vaughan tees off at the Dunhill Links Championship © Getty Images
Michael Vaughan has again indicated that he has not ruled out a return to the England side during the forthcoming Ashes series.

It has generally been accepted that Vaughan, who has not played an international for almost a year because of a long-standing knee injury, would not be fit until the one-day series which follows the Ashes at the earliest. But in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, he said that there is still "a small window of opportunity" that he might be ready for the final Tests at Melbourne and Sydney.

Vaughan will join the Academy side in Perth when the series gets underway. "Everything would have to go between now and then, but it's in my mind," he said. "I would have to stay fit, and it would also depend on the state of the series and how the England management are thinking. But it's definitely what I am aiming for and definitely a target."

But England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, told BBC Sport that talk of Vaughan's return was premature. "We know his rehab is going well and that's great news but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge," he said. "He still hasn't had a bat. He is running but he hasn't twisted or turned on the knee."

Vaughan hasn't held a bat since his last operation in July, although he is taking part in golf's Dunhill Links Championship this weekend as a "mental break" from his rehabilitation. "I wouldn't play golf if it would in any way jeopardise my knee. I've done a few straight-line sprints. I began running three weeks ago and hope to start batting in a couple of weeks.

"The twisting and turning and fielding will be the real test," he admitted. "The next month or so will confirm if it is progressing well or if we will have to take a bit of a backward step.

"My knee aches but it was sore throughout the whole of the Ashes and there were many injections," he added. "But I am getting good feelings. There is not that give-way sensation ... nothing of the jerking feeling."

Vaughan will undergo another scan in a fortnight, and a date for his departure for Perth will be agreed then. While out there, he will combine playing cricket with fitness training.