Vaughan lauds mighty Flintoff
Michael Vaughan refused to let his own dismal run with the bat take the sheen off England's emphatic victories in the NatWest Challenge against India. England followed up their facile seven-wicket win at Trent Bridge with a crushing 70-run triumph at The Oval, on the back of brilliant innings by Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood.
Vaughan, who has led England to 10 wins in their last 11 Tests, insisted that a run of failure which has produced just 51 runs in his last seven one-day internationals, wasn't preying on his mind unduly. "I just try to keep doing what I have been doing and not change my game from Test match cricket to one-day cricket," he said. "Hopefully, sooner rather than later it will happen. I've not got enough runs yet to find my form. All I can do is keep going. I got a good ball on Wednesday and strangled down the legside today."
Flintoff made a blistering 99, and put on 174 for the fifth wicket with the impressive Collingwood (79 not out), and Vaughan was effusive with his praise afterwards. "He [Flintoff] is a big player. He's playing as well as anyone in the world." He didn't ignore Flintoff's contribution with the ball either, saying, "He's bowling very straight and is our most experienced one-day bowler behind Darren Gough."
Vaughan pinpointed last summer's Test series against South Africa as the turning point in Flintoff's career. "He got a hundred at Lord's in a dead game and then a 95 at The Oval which must have given him a huge amount of confidence," he said. "The game depended on him getting those runs and since then he's been our most consistent batsman."
Sourav Ganguly, India's captain, was once Flintoff's team-mate at Lancashire, and he admitted that he was impressed by the rapid strides that he had made. "He always had the talent - I could see that when I was at Lancashire - but he has improved immensely."
Flintoff himself put the improvement done to greater self-awareness. "I am more confident and I know my game a lot better, the way I play, and I am a bit more mature on and off the pitch," he said, refusing to be too downcast on missing a century.
Though the series is already won, Vaughan said that there would be no let-up in intensity for the final match at Lord's. Both teams will want to go into the Champions Trophy on the back of a victory, and Vaughan said there was no question of fielding a weakened side. "We'll pick a team to win," he said. "It will be the best 11 players out of the squad of 14 to beat India at Lord's."