August 25, 2003

Vaughan hits out at lack of 'mental toughness' in domestic game

Wisden CricInfo Staff

Michael Vaughan has slammed England's domestic structure for consistently failing to produce players "mentally tough enough" for international cricket. Speaking at the press conference following England's 191-run defeat by South Africa at Headingley, Vaughan explained that he thought the national side's failings were partly down to the way the first-class game is run.

"I think over the last few years a lot of England teams have been very similar," he said. "When you get on top of an opposition in Test cricket, especially against a good side like South Africa, you have to make those situations count - we didn't do that here and we haven't done it in the past very well.

"Maybe it's mental and maybe it's to do with attitudes and the way we're brought up in our game, but it's happened a hell of a lot in the past. This isn't the first time it's happened and it's really something we're going to have to look at. The English game is progressing nicely but I think we have to start looking deeper than that now.

"Situations have arisen in games before and we haven't quite been ruthless enough to take that opportunity and maybe that stems from the amount of cricket we've been playing," Vaughan continued. "Players just play and are we enthusiastic for the whole summer in the game, I'm not too sure we are. I think we have to be honest enough now. We're not really producing the amount of players who are mentally tough enough for Test match cricket.

"I'm not the guy to change things, but this should be looked at. If you arrive at a Test match you should be mentally tough enough. You pick young guys and they have to learn and a great way to do that is out in the middle, but you need guys who turn up mentally tough with a great attitude and I'm not too sure our system is allowing that at the minute.

"It comes from within, but if you get a guy young enough you can install that in them. If you look back throughout the years, English players have had that laid-back type of attitude where we play so much county cricket that it can get boring.

"Practice is a massive part of our game and we don't get a great deal of time to practice, especially county players, they're just on a treadmill. They play, they never get chance to get in the nets and work on their skills and work on the mental side so if you're struggling you basically work it out in the middle. You don't have the opportunity to go and work for hours and days with the coach and try and sort it