Warwickshire v Yorkshire, Edgbaston, 1st day May 6, 2009

Vaughan loses more than his bearings

George Dobell at Edgbaston

Yorkshire 258 for 2 (Sayers 114, Rudolph 62) v Warwickshire
Scorecard

Perhaps it was fitting that Michael Vaughan should lose his way as he came out to bat at Edgbaston. On the day when Ravi Bopara surely ended all arguments about who should hold the number three position for England, Vaughan not only struggled to find his form, but struggled to even find the pitch.

Vaughan, who until the afternoon was the last man to score a Test century for England from the No. 3 position, had to be shown the way to the middle by spectators. After leaving the dressing room via the players' viewing gallery, he realised there was no direct access to the pitch and was obliged to clamber over seats and through the crowd. Whether it affected his batting is debatable; as a metaphor for his career, it was precise.

Vaughan is hardly making a compelling case for a recall. He has now scored just 77 runs in five first-class innings this season and hasn't recorded a first-class century for Yorkshire since 2003; a run of 20 games and 31 innings. Aged 34 and with a history of knee trouble, this might just have been the day when the clamour for Vaughan's recall died.

Here he lasted for just over an hour. Despite a couple of pleasing pulls, he never really settled and was beaten twice by Chris Woakes, feeling for the ball outside off stump. Finally, after being tied down by some tight bowling from Rikki Clarke, Vaughan drove airily at Woakes and was well caught at point.

The more prosaic charms of Joe Sayers took centre stage instead. Sayers, a player blessed with more patience than flair, scored the ninth century of his career and led his side to a position of some dominance before bad light curtailed play by four overs.

He needed this innings. He hadn't made a first-class half-century since the middle of 2007 - 27 innings ago - and is currently keeping the talented Adam Lyth out of the side. It was a valuable contribution but his progress was, at times, painfully slow. At one stage Sayers took 47 balls to make two runs and his team will need to score at nearly five an over if they are to claim full batting bonus points.

He was helped somewhat by Warwickshire, too. Both Woakes and Boyd Rankin struggled with their line initially, while Warwickshire's failure to post a third man or a fine leg was costly. Sayers is, by nature, a deflector and the vast majority of his boundaries came behind the wicket, though he did display a pleasing cover drive. He was also dropped, on 41, when Tim Ambrose, standing up to Jonathan Trott's medium pace, was unable to grasp an edged cut.

Jacques Rudolph and McGrath lent more positive support. Rudolph, in particular, looked in fine touch, feasting on Rankin's short bowling and easing into some sweet drives off Warwickshire's New Zealand debutant, Jeetan Patel. McGrath, too, unveiled some pleasing strokes, including a pulled six off Clarke and a couple of sumptuous drives off the seamers.

Pick of the bowlers was Rikki Clarke. Bowling with sustained pace and, perhaps more surprisingly, accuracy, Clarke extracted dangerous bounce out of another grudging wicket and troubled Sayers throughout. Clarke ended Rudolph's fluent innings with a fine bouncer that followed the batsman and took his glove as he fended it off his face, and should also have had the wicket of McGrath. Woakes, at square leg, put down a straightforward chance when the batsman had just 20.

It was not Warwickshire's only blemish in the field. Rudolph was also missed, on 25, when Ian Bell put down a hard chance at third slip off Neil Carter, while McGrath was reprieved again, this time on 46, when Ambrose failed to cling on to a tough chance off Woakes.

But it was Vaughan who missed the best opportunity. On a docile pitch and against a modest attack, he could ill afford another failure. At the ground where he resigned the England captaincy, 11 months ago, he may well have accepted there is to be no return to the team.

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