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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 10:44 GMT 11:44 UK
England's misguided faith
By Martin Gough
BBC Sport, Bridgetown, Barbados

Choosing Michael Vaughan to captain England in the World Cup was a massive gamble - and it has failed.

Now England have been eliminated at the second-round stage of the one-day tournament, they will have to evaluate whether it is worth persisting with the 32-year-old at the helm as they plan for the next World Cup in 2011.

The Schofield Report, a review of England's performance in both forms of the game, is expected to be published in the next few weeks and could recommend a change.

Michael Vaughan shows the strain
Vaughan has struggled at the top of the order

Just like Mike Brearley in the famous Ashes series of 1981, Vaughan was included for this tournament on the strength of his leadership.

Andrew Flintoff's status as skipper was battered during the 5-0 Ashes Test whitewash.

He was the victorious captain in the one-day series that followed, but Vaughan's three matches in charge - between knee and hamstring injuries - sparked an about-turn in form.

However, Vaughan has rarely played a full part with the bat at any point in his one-day career - after 86one-day internationals he averages just 26.43 with no centuries.

Since returning from that long-term knee injury, he has managed just 173 one-day runs in 11 games.

Were England winning, the scrutiny would be far less but they crashed out of the World Cup with just a single victory against Test opposition - Bangladesh.

Far from being part of the solution, Vaughan was part of the problem as the poor performance of the top-order batting put undue pressure on the middle order.

Most other teams followed a plan of exploiting the first 20 overs, with the powerplay fielding restrictions in place, by going for their shots.

England began games as if they were Test matches, aiming to keep wickets in hand for later in the innings.

Paul Collingwood and Michael Vaughan
Will Collingwood replace Vaughan as England one-day captain?

They determined that Vaughan must open, making him part of a top three comprising Ian Bell and either Ed Joyce or Andrew Strauss, none of whom are big-hitting starters.

The top of the batting order looked in need of major surgery, but the obvious place to start was with the man leading the side.

"My batting form has not been good at all in one-day cricket," Vaughan admitted after Tuesday's defeat by South Africa.

"I can't really give an answer as to why I haven't got the runs I should have done.

"I still believe I'm a very good captain but people have to sit down and discuss my batting. Over the next few days there will be plenty of discussions."

Vaughan expects his right knee to be troublesome for the rest of his career, prompting suggestions he should retire from the one-day game and concentrate on Test cricket, where his captaincy plays more of a part.

He has ruled out taking that option voluntarily, although conceding he may be pushed into it.

Despite the hype, though, Vaughan's captaincy credentials in one-day cricket are not particularly strong.

In 59 matches with him in charge, England have won a highly creditable 31 times, but 15 of those wins have come against either Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.

He does not have a winning percentage against any other side he has faced as captain more than three times.

During the World Cup, while opponents Ricky Ponting and Stephen Fleming tinkered with their use of bowlers and powerplays, Vaughan appeared to be following a set plan agreed in advance.

England's attempts to separate the captaincy of Test and one-day cricket in the past have been short-lived.

Adam Hollioake was forced out after 12 games in 1998 and Nasser Hussain handed the captaincy to Vaughan in 2003.

However, should they try it again the choices are limited.

Flintoff is unlikely to be made leader so soon after being disciplined for his part in a drinking session at the start of the World Cup.

Strauss gained plaudits when he took the role during the summer of 2006 but must be assured of a place in the side.

Paul Collingwood is a veteran, certain of his place and a player well-versed in the one-day game, but could count his games as captain with Durham on his fingers.

Whatever happens, England must look towards the 2011 World Cup and make a decision that will make as much sense in the future as it does now.



SEE ALSO
Vaughan insists he will not quit
17 Apr 07 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
11 Apr 07 |  Cricket
England pay for poor preparation
17 Apr 07 |  England
Cricket World Cup 2007 schedule
20 Jul 05 |  Cricket


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