Judge me on form alone - Vaughan
Michael Vaughan wants to be judged on the runs he has scored, rather than the big-game experience he can fall back on, when it comes to the possibility of a recall to the England squad for the first Test against West Indies at Lord's next month.
Vaughan has not played Test cricket since resigning the England captaincy in August last year, but had expected to find out on Monday whether he had made the first international squad of the summer. Instead that decision was postponed, allowing him to travel to Chester-le-Street for Yorkshire's opening County Championship fixture of the season against Durham on Wednesday knowing that a solid performance would put him firmly in line for a comeback.
"I'm glad it's been put back a week, it's the right decision for everyone," Vaughan told Cricinfo. "I'm very pleased with my pre-season preparation, and Durham is a great place for me to start against a really good bowling attack. [Steve] Harmison, [Liam] Plunkett and [Graham] Onions at this time of year will be a tough examination, but it's pretty obvious what I've got to do - score some runs."
Vaughan has already played two innings against Durham so far this season. He made 12 while playing for MCC in the season's opening fixture at Lord's, but then showed glimpses of his best form during an attractive 43 in the Friends Provident Trophy on Sunday. "I'm playing nicely," he said. "I have been doing since January. I don't want to just be picked on experience. It's important that I score runs for my own sake."
The competition for England's No. 3 is the most keenly contested in the side at the moment, although Vaughan will have to go some way to overhaul the start made by Ian Bell, who followed up his 172 for Warwickshire against Somerset at Taunton with a further century against the same opponents at Edgbaston. "I don't think it should come down to whose scoring the most runs," said Vaughan, "but I think it's important that whoever plays is in good form when they are picked."
After a winter away from the international scene, Vaughan is eager to get back involved. "I'd like another stab at the England side," he said. "I feel I've got a great opportunity to do that. Last summer I got to a stage where I wasn't quite enjoying cricket, and I didn't like that feeling at all, but anyone who's been around me for the last six months will see that I'm ready to go."
During his time away from the front line, Vaughan has remained an interested observer. "England's form has been patchy, there's no point in denying that, but what I saw in the West Indies was a team that got better after being bowled out in Jamaica," he said. "They should have won in Antigua, could have won in Trinidad, and could have won the series 2-1. I know these are ifs, but sometimes the hardest bit is to get over the line to win."
To that end, Vaughan believes they have the perfect man in charge to get England back to winning ways. "I do believe in Straussy as a captain," he said. "I really think he'll be a great England captain, one who'll offer a lot of stability, a lot of consistency and a lot of maturity, and those are exactly the attributes you require to be England captain."
"He's also a good thinker of the game but he's also realistic. He knows exactly where the team can end up, and he and Andy Flower will have a vision, which is crucial. The partnership they are creating seems to be a good one, and hopefully it will be a more stable time and the team will prosper."
Even so, Vaughan warned that expectations will have to be managed as Ashes fever takes hold of the country. "You've got to be careful because you've got to give Flower time," he said. "He's only just come into the position as a full-time coach, and the Ashes are two months away.
"Myself and Duncan [Fletcher] were lucky, we had two years to develop a team to take on the Aussies in 2005. We had a great set of players operating in the fashion that we wanted, and that took time. This summer is a big summer for the world game because the Ashes is very special, but it's not the be-all and end-all for the England team, because it's all relatively new for Flower and Strauss."
Whatever happens, however, Vaughan insisted that the 2009 would not be his last in the game. "I've enjoyed being back in the Yorkshire ranks," he said. "People might find that hard to believe, when you play in Ashes-winning teams and been with England for ten years. But I love the game and being in the ranks is a real good change. I won't play forever because I'll get too old. But I'll certainly be playing cricket next year."
Click here to listen to the full interview with Michael Vaughan.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo