Michael Vaughan questions England tactics in second Test against New Zealand

Former captain believes England could have been more attacking in the field

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The Independent Online

Former captain Michael Vaughan believes England's decision-making has been “a bit safe and a bit fearful” in the second Investec Test against New Zealand.

There has been plenty to celebrate during the match, with England running up a 467-run lead after centuries from Joe Root and Alastair Cook and eight wickets from an on-song Graeme Swann.

But with rain washing out day one at Headingley and the final day subject to mixed forecasts for much of the week, Vaughan thinks captain Alastair Cook has been excessively cautious at times.

Cook first opted not to enforce the follow-on when it was available on the third evening and then batted on until the Black Caps' winning target was unfeasibly high.

That took potentially important time out of the game but when England did get down to the business of bowling the opposition out, Cook declined to surround the bat with close catchers.

Vaughan had no issue with the follow-on decision but believes England could have been more attacking in the field.

"If they're honest, and they should be, they will look at where they could improve tactically. With strategic aggression they could have won this game already," Vaughan told Test Match Special.

"I think batting again was a good decision but they could have been a bit more proactive (in the field).

"Everyone should have been catching: try to force the batsman into an error. I just thought it was a bit safe yesterday

"It would worry me if they don't sit in the dressing room and accept they've played it a bit too safe and been a bit fearful.

"They didn't get it right and you've got to be honest as players.

"There wasn't many occasions where Swann had four men around the bat.

"That's why you bat so long, to allow yourself periods with men around the bat."

Vaughan's predecessor as England captain, Nasser Hussain, felt more sympathy with Cook.

He told Sky Sports: "When it's your team you don't press G for gamble.

"Flower, Strauss and Cook, they've been successful by first being cautious, is there any surprise at what's happened in this Test match?"

Former Black Caps wicketkeeper Ian Smith, on the other hand, believes the tourists will have been delighted by some of England's tactics in Leeds.

Responding to Hussain in the Sky Sports studio, he said: "I cannot believe this pantomime I am seeing unfolding in front of me where coaches are putting pressure on the umpires and groundstaff. The fact of the matter is that Nasser should have been driving back to Essex yesterday afternoon.

"England have let New Zealand off the hook and New Zealand can't believe their luck.

"New Zealand have been given a lifeline here - we're 158 for six and we can't believe our luck. We're being given respect we don't deserve after being outplayed in this Test match."