England will take a squad of 15 players to India for the series of two Tests in December. Michael Vaughan, the erstwhile captain, will not be among them after informing the selectors that he urgently needs a break from the game.
In their turn, the selectors decided his form was not sufficiently good to warrant a place. Chairman Geoff Miller said: "Our view is it will be to England's benefit if he takes a break from inter-national cricket in the period leading up to Christmas and spends time working on his game.
"We have discussed the situation with Michael. He fully understands the reasons for the selectors' decision and has made clear to us that he is fully committed to winning back his place in the England Test side."
So Vaughan did not wish to go and the selectors were not about to pick him. In which case it is tempting to wonder why Vaughan was awarded an annual central contract worth some £200,000. Although Vaughan is desperate to take part in the Ashes series next summer, he is mentally drained by the demands of constant big-time cricket, exacerbated by the 18 months he spent returning from long-term injury.
"My poor batting is nothing to do with anything technical," he said. "I just can't focus, my mind isn't there. I've got to get away from the game."
Vaughan's tearful departure from the England captaincy after three of four Tests against South Africa this summer was seen as a surprise, but he said he had already decided to go at the end of the series whatever happened. "As soon as I came back into the England team it was taking its toll," he said. "I have played non-stop cricket for 10 years, being away every winter, and when I was injured the entire time was spent concentrating on getting back."
Vaughan is aware there may be no easy way back this time and can hardly expect to be recalled for the tour of the West Indies starting in January. But he seems to view his destiny as playing one more time against Australia. Whatever happens then, retirement may follow at the end of next summer. "I need to get my head clear and then start playing. I know I still have the ability," he insisted.
The damaged knee which cost him so much of his career appears to be in good order but still needs constant care. His omission makes the selection of the squad, announced tomorrow, a shade easier, although Miller said it was a long meeting. "They all are, the days of 10-minute sessions are over."
England will take two wicketkeepers, presumably Matt Prior and Tim Ambrose, and three players capable of bowling spin. That is unlikely to include Yorkshire's rapidly developing leg-spinner Adil Rashid, but it may mean places for Nottinghamshire pair Graeme Swann and Samit Patel, who has taken a mere 12 Championship wickets with his orthodox left-arm spin this summer. The chances are that England will not win the series by turning the ball.Reuse content