x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Vaughan overlooked for Ashes training squad

The former captain receives the strongest hint yet that his Test career is over after he is left out of England's training squad.

England's 2005 Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan received the strongest hint yet that his Test career is over after he was left out of a 16-man training squad to prepare for the forthcoming series against Australia. Vaughan, 34, has lost out to Ian Bell in the bid to challenge Ravi Bopara for the number three slot, while there is also no place for another 2005 hero, the paceman Steve Harmison. Instead the selectors have opted to go for Graham Onions, Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom as backup to first-choice seamers James Anderson and Stuart Broad. As expected, the all-rounder Andrew Flintoff is in the training party after proving his fitness with Lancashire, while all three of the spinners in contention for a Test place ? Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann and Adil Rashid ? have been given a chance to prove themselves. Vaughan, who along with the former coach Duncan Fletcher masterminded England's historic win against Australia four years ago, now looks unlikely to get the chance to regain the urn as a player after failing to convince the selectors with his performances in county cricket. When he resigned the England captaincy last August, he did so with a promise to force his way back into the side through sheer weight of runs. He has conspicuously failed to make good on that, with a top score of 43 in six County Championship outings this season and an average of just below 20. Although the door is not entirely shut on the right-hander ? England are not duty bound to pick from within the training squad ? it now seems that only a catastrophic loss of form from the top order or a crippling bout of injuries would see him restored to the side. In addition to the 16-man party, England have also announced a team to play Warwickshire in a three-day match at Edgbaston and a Lions side to face Australia at Worcester, both starting on July 1. And it is Vaughan's omission from the latter ? behind the likes of Eoin Morgan, Joe Denly, Stephen Moore and Vikram Solanki ? that is perhaps most ominous for the Yorkshire batsman. Reflecting on the announcement, Geoff Miller, a national selector, said: "Michael Vaughan will, of course, be disappointed not to have been included, but I met with Michael recently and he understands that he needs to make runs consistently in county cricket if he is to force his way back into the squad. "We will continue to consider players outside the 16 chosen for the camp and will closely monitor performances in domestic cricket as the international season progresses. The door has not been closed on any player at this stage." With the first Test against Australia starting on July 8 at Cardiff, there had been worries that Flintoff's knee injury, sustained while on Indian Premier League duty, could keep him on the sidelines. But the 31-year-old, whose presence is critical to the balance of the side, returned to domestic action earlier this month against Durham to make the selectors' job easier. England will now name their squad for the first Test a day later than expected on July 5.

* PA Sport