Leader of men with talent to triumph amid heat and dust

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The Independent Online

Understanding why a bowler should come off or a fielder shift a few metres is one thing, persuading your charges that these are inspired ideas and you have not lost your marbles quite another. The chances are that if Trescothick has to take over from Michael Vaughan for the rest of what is sure to be a delicate, difficult tour of Pakistan in the next six weeks he will be taking the team with him.

He demonstrated that he had whatever it is when he led the Under-19 squad in the West Indies 11 years ago. The team lost the mini-Test series, won the one-dayers but what struck home to the coach, David Lloyd, was that they were prepared to do anything for the captain.

In Trescothick's case this is possibly because he is prepared to do anything for the team. Vaughan's new book finds the highest praise: "Ask anybody who's captained him and they'd all say the same: you can't wish for a better person in your team."

Vaughan and Trescothick formed the opening batting partnership in the Under-19s and Vaughan was captain immediately before Trescothick. For about two years it looked as though Trescothick might get there first with the senior team. He was Nasser Hussain's right-hand man, he was being groomed for the job. But he hit a lean batting patch at the very moment his old chum flourished in Australia three winters ago - the moment, it transpired, when it counted.

The selectors made the right choice because Vaughan probably has the indefinable leadership skills and then some. Trescothick has never remotely borne a grudge, indeed he is still the team's willing dogsbody in so many ways, performing throw downs at nets, fetching the fielding helmets.

By now, he has probably given up any ambition to be permanent leader and, even if he had not, the likelihood is that he is destined to be the Rab Butler - the Prime Minister who never was - of English cricket. Before this tour began he was firm on the issue. Having seen what his mate went through he was not sure he could cope at the highest level.

"The easy bit almost is on the field. I don't think I'm the right person and would strongly advise them to look elsewhere if asked. I'm happy to be the lieutenant rather than a general."

But as Vaughan's lieutenant (though not official vice-captain) Trescothick's natural reaction would be to agree to take over. Indeed, he was not as unequivocal as he had been last month, but that was almost certainly for the steadiness of the team, rather than any change of mind. It is a measure of his character that had another team member been asked - rumours swept Multan yesterday that Andrew Flintoff was being asked to step up and Andrew Strauss is a likely future runner - he would have simply continued as before.

Tresothick will bring the same calm approach - none of the Hussain brand or histrionics for these boys or the verbal passion. He has already led England in five one-day matches since 2001 (won three, lost two) and won his only Test when Vaughan withdrew against New Zealand at Lord's in 2004. The heat and dust of this place and this series represents his toughest assignment. The innate talent to persuade his men to follow him is still there, but he has to know where he is going.

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