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Michael Vaughan Q&A

Michael Vaughan with the Ashes in 2005
Michael Vaughan is England's most successful Test captain

Former England captain Michael Vaughan answers your questions - ranging from Ian Bell's place in the side to the 'best' sledger he has faced.

Michael will answer more questions during the current Test series against South Africa.

Send your questions to the newest member of the TMS team by using the form on the right.

Michael, of all the Test hundreds you made in your career, which gave you the most satisfaction? Ian Digby

There are two, my hundred against West Indies in my comeback after 14 months out of the game - and it was at Headingley, and the hundred I made against Australia at Old Trafford in the 2005 Ashes series because I wasn't in the greatest of form and we needed a first innings score and I managed to get 166.

Which player, current or retired, would you have liked to have captained and why?
David Bollands

It's probably Ian Botham for his all-round ability on the pitch obviously, but I like characters in my team - Freddie Flintoff was in my team all the time - and guys that play with a little fun at heart.

Michael, I enjoyed your autobiography but thought you were a bit harsh of Nasser Hussain! Which one player do you regret not getting into the England team when you were captain (Swanny)? Graeme Edgar

It's a very difficult question. I always picked what I felt was the best XI to win the series, win the game. Graeme Swann was in the squad when I first came into the England team in 1999, but around the time I was captain he wasn't doing that well, to be honest, and it was when I quit the captaincy that he really came to the fore.

It's only been this last couple of years when Graeme Swann has probably matured as a cricketer. I haven't really got any regrets on anyone that I picked - I just did it in the best interests of the team and hopefully the results proved that.

Ian Bell has been getting a lot of stick about his on/off performance with the bat. Do you think England should keep faith with Ian for the next few games or go for someone else in his place? If so who would be your choice in Bell's place? Matthew Carter

The big question on Bell is not necessarily whether he can play, whether he's good enough to play in the England team, it's whether the balance of the team needs five bowlers. I would have thought that going to Durban, England will look for five bowling options and potentially look to bring Luke Wright in to bat at number seven, so Bell or Cook could be the batsman to miss out.

A lot was made about your batting during your captaincy. Did you feel that the captaincy influenced your batting or were you able to go out to middle simply as a batsman, your performances a result of factors unrelated to the fact that you were captain? Gareth Lennox

When I was at my best and mentally very strong and refreshed, it didn't - I played very well as a batsman and as captain. There were times when things started to get on top of me as a captain when obviously it did affect my batting. Andrew Strauss is doing a really good job, he's got the mental capacity to do both. It's about having two hats - a captain's hat and a batting hat - and the really good captains are able to switch from one to the other.

I'd like to know what you think about the removal of your former team-mate Matthew Hoggard from the England team - both the fact that he is no longer considered and the manner of his axing. Wouldn't the current England attack be stronger with Hoggy leading it? Phil Waknell

Hi Michael, I was wondering about your thoughts on the recent affair between Matthew Hoggard and Yorkshire. Obviously Hoggy is very bitter towards the Yorkshire management due to their treatment to him after many years of service. What do you think? Jim in Wales

Hoggy shouldn't be in the England team now. He's had his day and he was fantastic for the team, a real good strike bowler, a swing bowler, who developed a lot of skill in his bowling as well.

The way he was treated by Yorkshire - I don't think either side, both Hoggy and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, treated the situation very professionally. He's moved on to Leicestershire, he's now the captain so I'm sure he's really looking forward to that new goal. I'm sure he'll do a good job at Leicester but as for playing for England - not any more.

How difficult is it to be objective about people you were playing with not long ago? Terry Jackson

What I've tried to do is be very honest, tried to be insightful into what I know about the team, what I know about individuals, what I know about the game itself. I feel I've been constructive - I haven't really nailed anyone - but if someone makes a mistake, I want to try and explain why they've made a mistake. I've found it relatively easy, to be honest.

While at Yorkshire, did you receive any help with your batting from Geoffrey Boycott? Daniel Hewson

I didn't, no. I had a couple of chats with Geoff but Duncan Fletcher was my batting coach, and Martyn Moxon at Yorkshire. I had the odd chat but generally Geoffrey talked about himself so, no, I didn't use Geoffrey that much when I was a player.

Who was the best or most intimidating sledger you ever played against? Paul Davies

I wouldn't say sledger...I'd say Steve Waugh and Shane Warne as a combination were very, very clever. They had a fantastic knack of just playing around with your mind when you were at the crease or in practice or around the hotel. They'd just say something to you that would get you thinking 'Why have they just said that?' and trigger your mind to a past experience. They were always trying to get into your mind some negative past experience - a very clever couple of players.

What did you use to say to the guys in the 'huddle' before you took to the field? And what was the reason for this type of team talk in the first place? Steve Elliott

Because the dressing room is so full these days it was the only real opportunity I had of getting the 11 players who were playing the game together. It might be a pep talk, might be to try to relax them and release the pressure, put pressure on, it all depended on the situation in the game. It wasn't always me who spoke either, I'd always pass it around the team to let other players have their say of where they thought the session should be going.

Who was the best cricketer you played with and who was the best you played against? Robin Abbott

Best cricketer I played with, probably Andrew Flintoff for what he brought to the team. I think Kevin Pietersen and, at times, Andrew Strauss were the best batters that I played with. Played against - that's very difficult, all the Australian team, when I played against them in '05 and '02-03 were really good. I'd say Shane Warne, I think he's been great for the game. Anyone who can bowl leg-spin, catch, smash it, and also have fun is a good cricketer.

I have so much trouble keeping my focus and 'cool' when batting and get down quite easily when things aren't going well. How did you keep a calm mind when batting, as well as focus? Ashwin

I think cricket is all about the preparation. If you prepare, and if you're playing in the leagues you generally net on a Tuesday or a Thursday night, if you practise as hard as you can, hit plenty of balls and do all the right things ahead of the game, you should just try and take the practice into the match.

I know it's a little bit more pressurised because if you're out, you're out - if you're out in the nets, you still get another opportunity - but you have to have nerves, nerves are a good thing but nerves are just telling you that your body is ready to perform. The more people that understand that, the better. If you're not nervous, in any game you play, you're not ready to perform.

Is there one young (under 20) English player that you have heard of that you think will be a real superstar in the future? Steve Booth

Archie Vaughan [Ed: MV's son]! He plays every day, practises, he's not got a lot of kit but he's working on it. No, there's a few guys out there - I'm fortunate to work with the England Performance squad of under-16s and there are a number of good players in that.

I don't want to big them up but there's a number of players I'll be watching for.

* You can listen to Michael on Test Match Special on BBC Radio 4 Longwave, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, the Red Button and the BBC Sport website. The second Test against South Africa starts in Durban on Boxing Day.

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see also
England scrape draw in first Test
20 Dec 09 |  England
Vaughan recalls harsh Test bow
25 Nov 09 |  England
Michael Vaughan's career in photos
30 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Ashes hero Vaughan calls it quits
30 Jun 09 |  Cricket
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in South Africa 2009-10
17 Jan 10 |  England

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