England news April 6, 2009

Failure to switch off from captaincy took its toll - Vaughan

Cricinfo staff

Former England captain Michael Vaughan has admitted that his failure to switch off from the demands of the job took its toll as he reflected on his decision to step down. Vaughan led England in 51 Tests, including the victorious Ashes series against Australia in 2005, but resigned in August last year after the home series against South Africa, and was succeeded by Kevin Pietersen.

"I wasn't very good at switching off," Vaughan wrote in the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 2009. "I thought about the captaincy 24/7 and that is why it took its toll. There is always going to be some negative stuff, like whether you are going to tour Zimbabwe or not, and how you cope determines how long you can captain for.

"Even in my year out with a knee injury I was still thinking about how to make us a great team. Even when playing golf, after two or three holes I'd get back to strategies for beating Australia and what sort of cricket we had to play."

Vaughan admitted that he suffered self-doubt during the final period of his captaincy. "For three-quarters of my time I didn't worry about my decision-making," he said. "Towards the end, especially in my last series in charge against South Africa, I started to question myself - and in sport, the more you start to think, the more you have a problem. I didn't want to go on as captain for a year too long."

He also conceded that many a time he had to put up a front. "A lot of captaincy is about acting: you want your team-mates to play naturally and be themselves, but the captain has to act. Your job is to lead with a calm authority. On that Sunday morning at Edgbaston in 2005, when we won the second Test against Australia by two runs, I was unbelievably stressed. I was flapping like hell inside, but couldn't show it…The players in my last year as captain didn't know I was struggling - and that is one of the things I will always be proudest of."

After resigning from the captaincy, he was kept out of England's winter tours to India and West Indies in 2008-09. However, he has been given a timely opportunity to impress the selectors ahead of this summer's Ashes, after being picked for MCC against the champion County, Durham, in the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season, at Lord's on April 9.