England v West Indies, 4th Test, Chester-le-Street, 4th day June 18, 2007

A tale of two captains



Michael Vaughan didn't let his one-day decision affect his Test captaincy © Getty Images
Michael Vaughan and Daren Ganga were captains with plenty on their minds during the fourth day at Chester-le-Street. But while Vaughan remained focussed in his quest for a 3-0 series win, despite the announcement that he is standing down as one-day captain, Ganga couldn't have appeared more distracted and detached. In two days' time he flies home, having been overlooked for West Indies' one-day role.

Vaughan was relaxed throughout the day, from England's early warm-ups to his constant bowling changes during the evening session. While England were batting he was sat on the balcony sharing a few moments with one of West Indies' squad, but clearly there were no words of captaincy wisdom among the conversations.

Ganga appeared bereft of ideas and aloof. There have been many depressing aspects to West Indies' cricket in recent times, but considering the fight they showed on the final two days at Old Trafford, their performance in the last two sessions here stand down in their ordinariness. In the space of two hours they went from holding the advantage to preparing for a survival battle. Maybe they woke up to their opportunity and panicked. After all, it's seven years since they last won an overseas Test, at Edgbaston in 2000, and a team forgets how to react.

The period between lunch and tea was as shoddy as you could hope to witness - and there have been some competitors for that title in recent times - and all Ganga could do was flail his arms and point in various directions with little effect. Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior were handed a gifted-wrapped net session against a horribly wayward Daren Powell and the help-yourself offspin of Marlon Samuels. Fidel Edwards, who removed four top-order scalps, barely appeared during the afternoon and sent down a one-over spell ahead of the second new ball.

"Powell told me it was reverse swinging," said Edwards, "but it went the other way for me." That sums up West Indies' problems and it was enough to leave some former players venting their frustration and anger at events in the middle.

The hopeless situation Ganga finds himself in was amplified when he didn't come out to open the batting - he hasn't reached double figures since a promising start at Lord's. It wasn't long until he came out at No. 3 - and he quickly made the walk back - but whatever the tactical reasons, it was a poor statement of intent from West Indies. Contrast this to Vaughan, who could never be accused of failing to lead from the front, even during his horrific trot in one-day cricket.

Despite also knowing he wouldn't be captaining the one-day side again, Vaughan flexed his muscles and never let the batsmen settle. He used Monty Panesar early and was rewarded with Runako Morton's wicket. His decision to leave the one-day job is the correct one - his body isn't up to the grind and six years without producing a century means his batting isn't either - but that sharp tactical nous, which has played such a role in lifting England to No. 2 in the Test world, will be missed.

It will go down as one of biggest conundrums of English cricket; why didn't Vaughan succeed in one-day cricket? If Vaughan hadn't made the decision it probably would have been made for him, and he would have been accused of being blind to the truth, but giving up international captaincy - even half the job - as Nasser Hussain says, will be a loss that hurts.

At the moment West Indies would settle for a captain half as impressive and focussed as Vaughan. In their defence Ramnaresh Sarwan had little time to prove himself before injury sent him home, but even his initial appointment hadn't been greeted with resounding approval. The next man to try the job will be Chris Gayle, who struggles to take his hands out of his pockets at slip and is so laid back he might fall off his seat at the post-match press conferences. That's not exactly what West Indies need right now.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo