Michael Vaughan marked his long-awaited return from injury with a hugely encouraging half-century to carry Yorkshire to an important C&G Trophy victory over Scotland here yesterday. Chasing a Duckworth-Lewis target of 158 in 30 overs after a series of stoppages for showers - the Saltires actually made 212 for 9 in their full 50 - Yorkshire needed Vaughan (67) to be on top of his game.
The England captain said he "could not have asked for a better start". But added: "I must stress that this is the beginning - I won't be playing for England on Friday. I need to get through a few games to test [my knee] out thoroughly over a two or three-week period. I'll try to play all the games I can and see how it reacts to some four-day cricket."
Vaughan, playing his first competitive cricket so far this year following surgery on his right knee in December, began his comeback by distinguishing himself in the field with a direct-hit run-out from short fine-leg to account for the Scotland captain Craig Wright. But it was with the bat that he was doubtless most anxious to start well - and he showed few if any signs of rustiness on his way to a near run-a-ball 50.
"I felt good," Vaughan said. "I've been confident over the last two weeks. I haven't said anything because I didn't want to then have another setback. I kept very quiet and told all the team who were helping me to keep quiet. I wouldn't have played today if I didn't think I could do a good job. You have to give this game a lot of respect.
"I wouldn't have played if I felt I couldn't play the whole repertoire of shots. I needed to be confident that if someone dropped one short I could pull it or cut it and obviously if they pitched it up I could get forward to drive. I've done all those tests over the last few weeks, and that's why I was confident going into this game. I've felt in tremendous form with my batting, doing a lot in the nets.
"You know it's only nets and you have to produce it in the middle. But I felt as good as I have done for a long time today."
The next stage of Vaughan's comeback is planned to be in Yorkshire's County Championship match at home to Hampshire this week - when he can expect to come up against his old Ashes rival Shane Warne. As long as there is no adverse reaction to yesterday's activities, he just needs to stay in the same sort of batting form against Warne and Co. "I hope it will continue and I can try and get a good score against Hampshire," Vaughan said.
He has been careful throughout not to rush back, having had to fly home from England's tour of India three months ago when he suffered a recurrence of discomfort in his knee. Another setback stopped him playing for Yorkshire at Northampton earlier this month - making the 31-year-old doubly determined to be as sure as he could be about his fitness this time.
He gave his knee an early test with a push for a quick single to mid-on to get off the mark as well as unveiling a memorable edition of one of his favourite shots, a flat-batted four past cover. And there was more to come in company with the prolific Darren Lehmann - notably a huge pulled six into the West Stand off Dewald Nel to go with nine fours as a stand of 91 eased Yorkshire to the verge of their six-wicket success. Vaughan fell to an astonishing catch at square-leg by his old friend Gavin Hamilton.
* An unbeaten 93 from 92 balls by Michael Di Venuto revived Derbyshire's C&G Trophy hopes as Worcestershire were beaten by seven wickets in a rain-affected match at Derby. Di Venuto and Chris Taylor shared an unbroken stand of 94 in 16 overs to seal victory with five balls to spare after the home side had been set a revised target of 189 in 32 overs.Reuse content