Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What was so Special about Michael Vaughan?

Michael Vaughan has retired and everyone is talking about him.

Tributes have poured in from all corners with some praising his timing, others raving about his cover drive, and almost everyone talking of his greatness as a leader.

Geoff Boycott has even gone to the extent of ranking him alongside Mike Brearley, who many consider as the best England captain ever; if not the best international captain ever.

That got me wondering.

Was Vaughan really that good?

I don't think he ever reached the same heights as a batsman as he did during the 2002-03 Ashes; nor did he lead England to any memorable series wins besides the 2005 Ashes (or is my memory failing me?).

Then what makes him so special?

His test record, 5719 runs at 41.44, is just about average; while his ODI record is nothing to talk about.

I've never thought of Vaughan as a great cricketer; seeing all that is being said about him made me question myself.

Was he really that great?

As a test captain, he ranks alongside the best.

Among all captains that have led in a minimum of 25 tests, Vaughan is among the top 10 in terms of percentage of test matches won.

In there he is in the great company of Brearley, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, and Viv Richards.

Though his record as a batsman isn't one for him to be considered among the best, there is one area where he ranks among the greats.

His conversion rate.

With 18 centuries and 18 fifties, Vaughan converts 50s into 100s more often than most test batsmen.

Among batsmen with atleast 15 test centuries, only Bradman, Strauss, KP, Walcott, Azharuddin, and Hayden have a better conversion rate than he does.

No wonder everyone is raving about him.

I think my judgement was clouded due to what Shoaib Akhtar did to him in 2005.

The look on Vaughan's face when he was deceived by that slower one was priceless.

Here's the wicket (the 2nd one in the video); I couldn't find one of his expression but for those who have seen it know what I am talking about.

That for me will remain the most memorable Michael Vaughan moment.

After that glorious 183 against Australia at Sydney ofcourse.

Make your pitch on this post...

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17 Pitched:

  1. scorpicity said...

    Like most things English with respect to their cricket, highly over-rated.

    Vaughan had his moments though.

  2. Tifosi Guy said...

    To be honest , even as a captain he was not that flash. All keep talking of the Ashes 2005 - it was not as if that England walloped Australia.

    The two tests they won, they won by 1 run and 3 wickets - i.e. if the luck of the draw had gone Australia's way, it could easily have been 5- 0 to Aus.

    The one test they lost, they were absolutely hammered by Aus, even after dismissing Aus for 191 in the first innings ! So what was special of his captaincy then ?? Beggars me !

    As for a batsmen, you are talking on one good test series ( Ashes 02/03), and then it's whole lots of ' what ifs' innings. His avg proves it.

    But of course he is highly regarded because he got back the urn after 15 years !!!! What a tosser if you ask me :-)

  3. The Old Batsman said...

    That win percentage chart is a classic case of lies, damn lies and statistics - unless you really think that Ricky Ponting is the second most successful test captain in any way other than numerically.

    I understand your ambiguity about Vaughan, but to understand the reaction in England, you have to have gone through the 1990s following the team. His series win away in South africa was also very significant.

    As a batsman, he looked so good when he played well, I think that the aesthetics flattered his ability a little.

    It's also hard to say 'apart from 2005' because 2005 was perhaps the best Ashes series ever in terms of the drama of it.

    so yes, the tendency in England will always be to rate him very highly, more highly than he will be elsewhere.

  4. Q said...


    I thought so too.. "over rated".. but after all the tributes I did some digging and what I found I put up here..

  5. Q said...


    I agree with wat ur saying.. and thats what I have also always thought..

    He had an awesome 2002 with the bat with the couple of 190s against India and then the big centuries down under.. after that he was just about average..

    And the 05 Ashes.. it was only BIG cos the urn came back after 15 years..

    Again, I did this post to highlight that I never regarded him as one of the greats, but there are some stats which may put him there.. but again not all that..

  6. Q said...


    I don't believe that chart at all.. some of the other captains that I rate very highly - Lloyd, Imran Khan, Allan Border don't even feature there...

    And I know wat ur saying.. I followed England throughout the 90s so understand the significant of Vaughan and 05.. maybe the retirement has led people to hail him as the greatest.. I don't know..

    As a batsman, he flattered to deceive way too often.. he did look good when he scored.. but after 02 he was never the same..

  7. Stani Army said...

    He was just in the right place at the right time. It was Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher that pulled English cricket out of the gutter. Till this day, Nasser never gets enough credit.

    A captain is only as good as his team. Are Australia no.1 because they have the best captain? No.

    I cannot believe people still spoke of him making the Ashes squad.

  8. Wasim said...

    Vaughan was a shitty Capatain?
    What made him special? He was an English shitty capatin:)

  9. khansahab said...

    Vaughan was an amazing captain. Nasser Hussain lifted the England team from mediocre to competent, but it was Vaughan who kept the momentum.

    Desis don't give credit to Vaughan because they believe goreys don't give credit to Nasser Hussain.

    Imran Khan took a lot of credit for strategies devised by Miandad. It doesn't mean Imran wasn't a great captain. In the same way Vaughan built upon Hussain's successes but it doesn't mean he was not a great captain.

  10. Q said...


    I can see what Nasser did for English cricket, but even he wasn't anything great... I don't think..

  11. Q said...


    Haha.. but I can see that he was a good captain.. he has more wins than any other England captain, but as a batsman, not all that..

  12. Q said...


    I don't think Nasser or Vaughan did anything special.. sure Vaughan got them the urn after 18 years but as TG has mentioned, that was a very close series.. it was dramatic but not convincing victories..

    Vaughan deserves credit, no doubt.. but the way the tributes have flown since his retirement, it seems like a legend has left.. which I don't think is the case..

  13. Wasim said...


    English team under Vaughan if you look at its composition has always had good players in it but they as a unit has always been under achievers. How many major tournaments they have won?

    I don't care if Vaughan was more successful than the rest of the English captains but as you said he was not a legend England never won any major tournament under him.

  14. khansahab said...


    Those accolades have come from Englishmen- it is understandable why they think so. At the moment apart from Pieterson England has no world class player, but English people will not consider it that way. Everyone has natural biases and considering how different Vaughan was from Atherton, Pieterson, Struass etc as captains, it is no wonder the English consider him as legendary.

    England has not been a great team since the past 2 decades or so. I admitted Hussain's success played a part in Vaughan having a confident team that believed in itself, but Vaughan was very good at motivating his players. His field settings were always spot on. And that Ashes victory, albeit somewhat tentative, was legendary. The captain has to get the credit. Younis is getting the credit for the T20 victory although it was won by his bowlers Gul, Afridi and Ajmal.

    You can't compare Vaughan's greatness to players like Imran Khan or Inzamam; you have to analyse him using the "English" way, not the Pakistani way.

  15. Q said...


    The england team under Vaughan was pretty much the same it was under Hussain and under the several captains they have had since Vaughan...

    I do think they achieved more under Vaughan than other captains, but again, not the stuff of legends..

  16. Q said...


    I understand that the 05 Ases victory was "legendary" to a certain extent, and that Vaughan should get credit for it.. no doubt.. but for me its just been a bit more than he deserves maybe..

    But then as u said, maybe I'm thinking the "Pakistani" way and not the "English" way..

  17. Mike said...

    "The one test they lost, they were absolutely hammered by Aus, even after dismissing Aus for 191 in the first innings ! So what was special of his captaincy then ?? Beggars me !"

    Well doesn't that show great character from the England side to come back from that defeat? I think Vaughan gave his teammates belief that they could win and that is surely one of the most important elements of being a captain - being able to inspire your troops.

    And you also say that England only just won their two matches. Yes, that is true but you have to look at the matches in more detail. The second test produced an unbelievable finish. England were clearly the better side overall but it took some heroic batting from Warne, Lee & Kasprowicz to give Australia a chance of winning the match when it realistically looked like a simple victory for England. The third test, England were dominant and it was only a brilliant innings from Ponting that gave Australia the draw. And then in the fourth test it was only a bit of magic from Warne (which he produced throughout the series) & Lee that had England 7 wickets down at the end. In my honest opinion, England were by far the better side in those three tests. The first test was Australia, the next three England and the last test was Australia.

    Plus you have to remember that Australia had Warne, McGrath, Hayden, Ponting etc. Let's be honest, England didn't have anybody close to that level. So the fact that Vaughan led England to victory against that team was pretty impressive if you ask me.

    "As for a batsmen, you are talking on one good test series ( Ashes 02/03), and then it's whole lots of ' what ifs' innings. His avg proves it."

    That is absolutely rubbish - "lots of 'what ifs" innings"? Are you kidding me? What about his series against India. Scores of 100, 197 and 195 - that doesn't sound so bad to me. He had plenty of other good innings too but yes I generally agree he was way too inconsistent to be considered a truly great batsman.

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