LOUGHBOROUGH, England // Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood have stepped down from their roles as England's Test and one-day cricket captains respectively, following a string of disappointing performances. Vaughan announced his decision at a news conference today after England lost the third Test against South Africa at Edgbaston, giving the tourists an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series ? their first Test series win on British shores in 43 years. Immediately after the announcement, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said Collingwood had also decided to step down as England's one-day captain following England's disappointing campaign against New Zeland on home soil in June, clearing the way for a new player to lead both teams. Kevin Pietersen has emerged as the early favourite for both roles with the ECB set to announce the new captain tomorrow. Vaughan struggled with his batting throughout the series, totalling just 40 runs in five innings, and was harshly criticised after Saturday's loss. After holding the captaincy for five years, Vaughan said his "mind hasn't been as fresh" lately, and that it was time for a break. He said he will not play in the final Test at the Oval, but that he hopes to return as a batsman for England for several more years. "I wish my mind was fresher and I wish I could've taken it on another year," he said. "But I've had five unbelievable years ... It's just the right time, I feel, to move forward with a new captain, a new direction." Vaughan has been one of England's most successful - and popular - captains, leading the team to winning the Ashes against Australia three years ago. However, he missed the 2006 season because of knee and hamstring injuries and resigned as one-day captain after the debacle of a resounding defeat in the Ashes in Australia in 2006-2007 and at the 2007 World Cup.
* The National and AP