Focus of 'fatherly' Vaughan

On most tours it is the time spent away from cricket grounds that the players look forward to the most. The travel, five-star hotels, expenses, restaurants, bars, golf courses and the excitement of being abroad tend to transcend the hours spent sweating and toiling fruitlessly under a hot sun.

But for this England tour party the reverse will be true. Michael Vaughan's 14-man squad will have attempted to put the complex and contentious issues that surround Wednesday's arrival in Zimbabwe to the back of their minds. But, like the threatening clouds which continue to gather over the Namibian capital, they will not go away.

However, today the visitors take on Namibia in the first competitive match of this controversial tour. Only then will the players' thoughts turn to something which seems more important than matters taking place off the field.

No one will be more relieved to be playing than Vaughan. As the captain he has inevitably become a focus of attention, but since deciding to make himself available for this tour he has led by example. He has been honest and stated on many occasions that he would prefer not to be travelling to Zimbabwe.

This view has not stopped him from attending to his responsibilities. In fact he has moved the other way and feels that it is part of his job to protect and represent the younger squad members.

"I am trying to make this as normal a cricket tour as I can for the players," said Vaughan at the final practice session at the Wanderers Ground in Windhoek. "If there are any difficult questions or difficult situations then I, along with the management team, will try to deal with it. That is what myself, Richard Bevan [chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association], David Morgan and John Carr [respectively chairman and cricket operations director of the England and Wales Cricket Board] are here to do. This will allow the rest of the squad to concentrate solely on their cricket and winning cricket matches for England."

Vaughan has not adopted a fatherly approach to win over his team-mates - after guiding England to victory in 10 of the past 11 Tests, he commands huge respect. He is doing it because he believes it is the right thing to do. And it is.

Nasser Hussain, Vaughan's predecessor, acted in similar manner when England were due to travel to Harare for the 2003 World Cup. The pressure of the decision, along with his passionate nature, caused Hussain to lose his enthusiasm for the job. It is to be hoped that Vaughan does not find himself in the same position.

"I would not say this has been the most stressful period of my captaincy," he said. "But when you are continually being asked questions that aren't related to cricket, you realise you are not taking part in a normal cricket tour.

"We realise it is going to be a little bit tricky, but I just want my squad to concentrate on the cricket and get as much as they can out of the five games in Zimbabwe." Despite Namibia running England close at the World Cup, anything but victory in the two games here and five against Zimbabwe will be seen as failure.

In preparation, the United Cricket Board of South Africa allowed Namibia to compete in a couple of their domestic competitions. But following a controversial overhaul of first-class cricket in South Africa - to improve the standard, the number of sides was reduced - this offer was rescinded.

The Namibia team who take the field today will contain many of the faces who played against England in Port Elizabeth 21 months ago. England's will contain a maximum of four from that game; Stephen Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Marcus Trescothick chose to rest at home, leaving Vaughan, James Anderson, Paul Collingwood and Ashley Giles as the only survivors. All four can expect to play, but selecting the other seven is difficult. England wanted to play a match involving all 14 members of their squad but Namibia, thankfully, refused.

Ian Bell's quality has con- tinued to impress Vaughan and Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, and he could find himself opening the batting with Vikram Solanki ahead of Matthew Prior. Vaughan, Andrew Strauss and Collingwood will dominate the middle order, and Kevin Pietersen should be given an opportunity to show his class.

Geraint Jones will keep wicket, but Prior's presence will put him under pressure. Vaughan would not dare to leave Giles out, after the spinner turned down the chance to rest in order to support his captain. That leaves Anderson, Alex Wharf and Darren Gough to bowl the quick stuff.

"We have not decided on our side yet," was all Vaughan would reveal. "But we would like to have a look at all the players during our time here and in Zimbabwe."

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk