Keep Flintoff as captain if we win Ashes, says Vaughan

Michael Vaughan believes Andrew Flintoff, now standing in for him as England's captain while he recovers from a knee operation, will deserve to fill the role permanently if the team hang on to the Ashes.

"I'm the first to admit that if they go to Australia and Freddie retains the Ashes, he should keep the job," said Vaughan, who will also be Down Under during the five-Test series rehabilitating after the knee operation he had this summer.

"I'm just there in the background if they need me to come back as a leader. But it's not the be-all and end-all of my career to be captain. I just want to come back and play cricket again."

Vaughan, who has not featured at international level since breaking down in a warm-up match in the early part of the tour to India in March, added that if England managed to defend the Ashes, it would rank as a superior achievement to the 2005 victory.

"When you play abroad it is a different game. You are staying in hotels, travelling on buses. Everything is more difficult. The Ashes will come down to the way we cope with that pressure. But England have a good chance of retaining them."

The injured England captain dampened hopes that he might be fit enough to take part in the series starting in Brisbane on 23 November. "Playing in the Tests is a long-shot, it's a dream," he said. "If everything went incredibly well and I had a huge amount of luck maybe I'd have an opportunity to be available for the last two Tests.

"But you've also got to respect the guys in the team. I don't have any given right to walk straight back into the team. I've got to make sure the knee's good enough to play and I've got to be in good enough form for the team to allow me back in."

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