Michael Vaughan made the expected announcement. Yet nothing could prepare England cricket or the rest of the cricket world for the loss of a wonderful captain, cricketer and human being, who will now have to play off the field.
At the press conference, Vaughan stated, “After a great deal of consideration, I’ve decided that now is the right time to retire from cricket. It has been an enormous privilege to have played for and captained my country and this is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make.”
Michael Vaughan leaves the field as the most successful captain for England, wininng twenty-six off the fifty-one Test matches he captained. He did what no England captain could do in nearly two decades, win the Ashes in 2005. England also won a series against South Africa in South Africa. With eight successive victories in the Tests he led, Vaughan was on a roll and so were England.
An elegant batsman who also topped the batsman’s rankings at one time, his debut in 1999 saw him make eighteen scintillating Test centuries and many will remember his efforts in the 2002 series against Australia when he batted despite injury.
Since relinquishing the captaincy against South Africa last year, Vaughan has attempted a near impossible comeback and eventually saw his form force the ECB to leave him out of the England squad for the Ashes.
The pangs then of leaving the game are but obvious in his words, “Playing cricket has been my life for 16-17 years, so to hand it over without a chance to play again is hard. I’ve given it my best shot, I wanted to give it one last hard effort to get into the Ashes squad, but I haven’t been playing well enough and my body hasn’t been holding up. But this is where my life starts, so it’s an exciting time for me.”
But the disappointment of missing another Ashes is not reflected in his optimistic wishes for the England team, “I’d also like to wish Andrew Strauss and the current England team success in this Ashes series. I know they have the drive, ambition and abilities to repeat the success from 2005. Winning that series was most definitely the highpoint of my career, because we not only won the series, but captured the nation, which cricket hasn’t done for a long, long time.”
Vaughan gave his appreciation for all the support he has received through the years, “I’d like to record my sincere thanks to the England fans and the ECB and the members and supporters of Yorkshire County Cricket Club for their unstinting backing throughout my career as well as my wife Nicola and the rest of my family who have been equally supportive. I’m also extremely grateful to all of the players, managers, coaches, media and administrators I’ve worked with, who have all contributed to making my career so enjoyable and fulfilling.”
Typical modest, his aspirations of going down in memory are humble, “I want to be remembered as a nice player on the eye to watch, and as someone who gave my all. I leave with no regrets. I captained with an instinctive nature and I was fortunate to lead a determined team that played with an aggressive style.”
Andrew Strauss, the England captain, and Kevin Pietersen also lent praise describing Vaughan as an inspiration captain, leader and a calming influence in difficult times on the field. Matthew Hoggard wrote an entertaining column about Vaughan in which he called him a fearless captain with a refreshing approach. He also spoke about how Vaughan played through pain and never let out a word and the results, and his own innings, never suggested that Vaughan was suffering from physical pain.
Cheers to a fine captain, batsman and cricketer!