Steely Vaughan shows there is nothing ugly in his game

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Michael Vaughan has had a lot of stick over the last few days about his batting failures. This was all brought to a head by his inability to make significant runs in the recent one-day triangular series. The undeniable fact is that since taking on the England captaincy he has not been as productive as he was before that great moment arrived.

Michael Vaughan has had a lot of stick over the last few days about his batting failures. This was all brought to a head by his inability to make significant runs in the recent one-day triangular series. The undeniable fact is that since taking on the England captaincy he has not been as productive as he was before that great moment arrived.

Perhaps the most telling criticism came from a former England captain, Michael Atherton, who wrote at length of the need for him to score "ugly runs". Vaughan, as Atherton knows, is one of those sublime batsmen who is incapable of an ugly movement at the batting crease.

There is an elegance and grace about everything that he does. Atherton was surely having a go at Vaughan's mental processes, which, at times, may not always have been as tough as they should have been. Vaughan has admitted to reading Atherton's comments carefully and from what we have seen here he has reacted positively to them.

It may be that Atherton, who is as canny in his writings and his comments on television as he was with the bat for England, has done the trick with Vaughan. Yesterday his batting overflowed with determination. He batted as if he had been stung by the comments and realised their veracity. There was a strip of tungsten in the middle of it all.

No batsman plays a finer cover drive than Vaughan and no batsman pulls the ball through the leg-side with such panache. This has never been an issue, but recently Vaughan has been guilty of soft dismissals that a batsman of his class should not allow. But his body language here made an emphatic statement. There was nothing flippant about any of it.

All the glorious strokes were still there, but there was now a determination about his batting that has not always been apparent. The two strokes that spoke more of his class than any others came just before lunch when he faced Fidel Edwards.

First, a short ball that did not get up quite as much as he expected produced a magical pull. He moved his feet inside the line and, before you could say "Don Bradman" he had dismissed the ball from his presence to the square-leg boundary, rolling his wrists to keep the ball down. The next ball was pitched up on his middle and leg stumps. Vaughan opened up his stance and drove it beautifully between wide mid-on and the bowler for four. The on-drive is the hardest stroke of all and Vaughan's was a beauty.

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