Michael Paul Vaughan
October 29, 1974, Salford, Manchester
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Silverdale Comprehensive, Sheffield
On September 12, 2005, Michael Vaughan secured his place in English sporting history by becoming the first captain to win an Ashes series since Mike Gatting in 1986-87. It was the culmination of a five-year journey for Vaughan, whose captaincy - calm, obdurate and ruthlessly effective - had become as classy and composed as the batting technique that, briefly, carried him to the top of the world rankings.
With a priceless ability to treat triumph and disaster just the same, Vaughan faced up to his first ball in Test cricket with England four wickets down for two runs on a damp flyer at Johannesburg in November 1999 and drew immediate comparisons with Michael Atherton for his inhumanly calm aura at the crease. But, despite the obvious similarities between the two - from their Mancunian heritage to their indifference to sledging - Vaughan soon demonstrated he was more than just a like-for-like replacement. Once he had made the place his own, Vaughan blossomed magnificently, playing with a freedom of expression that Atherton had never dared to approach.
He sparkled his way to 900 runs in seven Tests against Sri Lanka and India in 2002, the prelude to a formidable series in Australia in which he became the first visiting batsman for 32 years to top 600 runs. Despite the fact that his one-day record at the time scarcely matched up to his impressive Test figures, he was appointed captain of England's one-day side in time for the 2003 home season, and inherited the Test captaincy two weeks later when Nasser Hussain abdicated out of the blue. Hussain, astutely, had spotted Vaughan's burgeoning man-management abilities, and despite a torrid baptism, including a record-breaking defeat at Lord's, Vaughan guided his team to a 2-2 draw. After a stutter in Sri Lanka, he confirmed the arrival of a new era by routing West Indies on their home soil, the first time in three decades an England team had achieved such a feat.
Returning home, he missed the opening Test of the summer but returned to guide England to a summer clean sweep with victories over first New Zealand (3-0) then West Indies (4-0), went on to record a memorable 2-1 series win in South Africa, and then achieved Nirvana with a 2-1 triumph in arguably the greatest series of all time.
But then came a terrible hiatus. A recurrence of an old knee injury meant that Marcus Trescothick stood in for the first Test of the post-Ashes era, in Pakistan, and the seriousness of the issue really became clear three months later in India, when he was forced home for a series of operations that wrecked his 2006 season and ensured he would not be fit to lead England's return trip to Australia. Andrew Flintoff took over the captaincy, but the calls for Vaughan's return grew louder as England were bundled ever closer to their eventual 5-0 whitewash.
Vaughan was duly recalled, as captain, for the one-day series in spite of a debilitating hamstring strain that reduced him to just three appearances out of ten in a victorious CB Series campaign. He limped his way through the World Cup, in every sense of the word, becoming an increasing liability in the top order. Two months later he quit the limited-overs captaincy, but by then he had re-established himself at the helm of the Test side.
He scored a memorable century on home turf at Headingley in his comeback game, before going on to overhaul Peter May's record of 20 wins as England captain. But he was never quite the same. Results faded and, after defeat to South Africa at Edgbaston, he emotionally resigned although vowed to play on. He was rewarded for his services with another ECB central contract that September, but as the 2009 Ashes drew closer it became apparent that his form was not going to return. Without having played another Test match, he took the decision in June 2009 to retire from all cricket with immediate effect.
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