x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Fletcher backs 2005 Ashes mastermind's decision to stand down

The former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan will hold a press conference today when he is widely expected to announce his retirement.

The England and Wales Cricket Board have announced former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, once the world's top-ranked batsman, will hold a press conference today when he is widely expected to announce his retirement. The news follows last week's announcement that Vaughan, who masterminded England's 2005 Ashes win, had not been selected for his country's 16-man training squad for this summer's Ashes series, despite England's ongoing problem No 3 position.

Vaughan's exclusion from the squad follows his resignation as captain last year. At the time, the 34-year old revealed he was focusing on improving his batting form for county side Yorkshire to increase his England selection chances. However, Vaughan's persistent knee problems have continued to plague his recovery and form. Ultimately, the selectors decided to overlook Vaughan from the team aiming to regain the urn this summer.

Should Vaughan retire, he'll have the backing of former England coach Duncan Fletcher, who gave him his Test debut in 1999 and made him captain in 2003. "Vaughan was a classy batsman, but he became a marvellous captain and a good friend. English cricket can be very proud of him," said Fletcher. "The public saw one side only: a batsman who could cover-drive and pull like a dream, and a tactically astute leader who brought the best out of his players. What they didn't see was the gutsy fighter who could score 177 with a busted knee, as he did in Adelaide in 2002-03, or the burning desire which once made him furious with me when I told him he couldn't play in a one-dayer at Bristol against the Aussies because of a serious finger injury."

Fletcher added: "It's sad that he's going to announce his retirement, but reluctantly I have to say he's made the right decision. "Cricket, and not just English cricket, will miss him." In recent months, the case for Vaughan's inclusion in the Ashes squad has been trumpeted by Fletcher, as well as another former England captain, Ian Botham. However, concerns about Vaughan's durability - over five gruelling tests against a notoriously unforgiving Australian attack - have seemingly swayed selectors and prompted a player to bring the curtain down on an illustrious career of 5,719 runs from 82 Tests for England.

emegson@thenational.ae