x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Vaughan gets his timing wrong

The gift of timing was something Michael Vaughan was supposed to have in spades. Not so, it seems, judging by his less than ceremonious exit from the playing stage.

The gift of timing was something Michael Vaughan was supposed to have in spades. Not so, it seems, judging by his less than ceremonious exit from the playing stage, which he is expected to confirm at a press conference in Birmingham today. There will be no glorious swansong. He has been clinging on in the vain hope he could recapture past glories, fuelled by the goodwill of a variety of pundits suggesting he was key to England's hopes of regaining the Ashes.

Ravi Bopara put to bed that particular dream when he posted three successive Test centuries this year, thus claiming for keeps the problematic No 3 berth in England's line-up. All of which left Vaughan awkwardly ho-humming his way towards the end, without the platform his exploits have deserved. Even his most ardent supporter would be hard pushed to recall the last time he made a ton in competition. The answer? A low-key ProArch Trophy match for Yorkshire against Surrey at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi in March.

When it came to retiring, Vaughan's predecessor as England captain, Nasser Hussain nailed it. As batsmen, the two were poles apart. Vaughan was all elegance. Hussain was no doubt less graceful, but he could still do theatre, as he proved on his final day playing the game. First he lulled everyone in, running out the debuting local hero, Andrew Strauss, who was eyeing a second century in the match.

Hussain made amends with a century of his own, and applied the coup de grace by lacing the winning runs in the Lord's Test. Then he signed off. Thank-you for having me, it's been emotional. That is the way to do it, Michael. There is probably a chair marked for Vaughan, waiting next to Hussain in the SkySports commentary booth. It is already peopled almost exclusively by former England captains, and his voice would be a welcome addition.

But the lure of satellite TV lucre is not a necessity for Vaughan in retirement. He has done well out of cricket. He once answered a question about how many properties he owned by saying: "I'm not in Robbie Fowler's league - [but] you'd need to ask my investor." It is unlikely that he will follow the path trodden by the former England seamer Chris Old, who now owns a chip shop. It is less likely still that he will emulate Chris Lewis, another ex-pace-bowler, who is just starting a jail term for drug smuggling.

He might fancy following his former teammates Jack Russell and Peter Martin into the art world. He has already had a dabble, founding his own movement called "Artballing", which involves hitting cricket balls covered in paint at the canvass. Andrew Graham-Dixon and Brian Sewell would no doubt wince if ever his work made it to Tate Modern, especially given Vaughan's drive seems less artistic than fiscal. His works, dappled with splodges of cricket-ball generated paint, carried with them price tags of up to £30,000 at exhibition.

We will not find Vaughan lopping his ears off because no one understands him. He knows what he is all about and, as Andy Warhol put it: "Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art." Before the season started, Vaughan forecast more artworks once he hangs up his boots for good, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, who will also contribute to his retirement fund via his well-remunerated column.

"Before all that, though, I'm hoping myself to recreate a couple of the centuries I'll score against Australia this summer." If it wasn't for that pesky Bopara... pradley@thenational.ae