Prize-winning Vaughan salutes individual brilliance of 'Freddie'

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The Independent Online

The all-rounder had good company in receiving his gong in Pakistan as his boyhood hero Ian Botham handed it over at 3am local time. Despite the anti-social hours, England's latest cricket hero was bedecked in jacket and tie, even if pyjamas would have been more appropriate and he proceeded to thank a long list of people including his team-mates, his physio, his parents and wife, and in keeping with how cricket has moved on since Botham's era, last but not least his agent.

Three months to the day since winning the Ashes at The Oval, Flintoff's team-mates were suitably honoured for their victory.

Their captain Michael Vaughan picked up the Team of the Year prize but speaking about Flintoff Vaughan said: "Freddie fully deserved the award and was huge in us winning in the summer. To beat Australia you need individual brilliance and throughout the summer he certainly was that. It was a team effort but Freddie probably performed on a more consistent basis. You need that from your best players and he certainly was one of ours." Vaughan, who is back in London for a knee operation, did not reflect on England's recent 2-0 series defeat in Pakistan but instead gave credit to the cricket fans who followed his team to their first Ashes victory in 18 years.

He said: "We got a feel for it [beating Australia] in the one-day series and the euphoria from that we took into the Tests. That was the inspiration for us." Remembering the reception he witnessed on the open-top bus parade that finished in Trafalgar Square, he added: "It was a bit surreal but very enjoyable."

Speaking from Pakistan, Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, quickly changed the focus to the return trip to Australia next winter as the real test of the side's mettle. "We've got to beat them there to be world number one."

As a signal of the way that cricket has shifted football from its perch of sporting supremacy in the public's affections, at least until the World Cup next summer, Vaughan and his team were honoured before the show's co-host Gary Lineker sat down to talk to Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese was named Coach of the Year for steering Chelsea to their first league title in 50 years and Blues fans will have been pleased to hear him re-affirm his commitment to the club.

Mourinho, who took over at Chelsea only in July last year, said: "I believe in this club and they believe in me. My family are happy. I don't see a quick move."