Michael Vaughan has for the first time named the man he expects to succeed him as England captain. In an exclusive interview prior to England's three-Test tour of Sri Lanka, Vaughan told The Independent that he believes Paul Collingwood possesses the credentials to take on one of the toughest jobs in British sport. Vaughan also suggested that there is a possibility that Collingwood, England's current one-day captain, could be in charge sooner rather than later.
"I said at the time when I handed it [the one-day captaincy] on, if Colly [Collingwood] comes in and does a great job there might be a stage when he does both," Vaughan said. "I'm sure that stage will come eventually. Whether it's in a month, whether it's in a year, in two years, who knows?
"I really believe he is going to make a good captain, I really do. He can switch to the Test captain. If you can do one you can do both. If in four or six weeks someone says the captaincy of the team should go to Colly, that it is in the best interests of the team that we have one and Colly leads both sides, then that's OK with me.
"That's the way it is going to go eventually. It's the best job in the world, and I love every single minute of it. And, hopefully, I can take us on and on and on. But these things come to an end and it's not something I worry about, that's life."
Few would have predicted that Collingwood, 31, would be sitting in such a strong position 14 months ago. In the absence of Vaughan, who was recovering from a career-threatening knee injury, Andrew Flintoff had somewhat controversially been named as England's Ashes captain, and Andrew Strauss, Vaughan's heir apparent in many people's eyes, had just guided the side to a 3-0 victory over Pakistan. At the time Collingwood was a respected figure in the dressing room, but he was considered to be no more than a dogged fighter in the middle order.
But the personnel at the top of English cricket has changed since England's calamitous defeat in Australia. Flintoff is out with a recurrence of the ankle injury that threatens his career and Strauss has been dropped after a poor run of form. Kevin Pietersen has been talked about as a potential England captain too, as has Alastair Cook, the 22-year-old opener.
Collingwood's cause has been helped by England's much improved one-day form since he took charge. Under his leadership England have won two series they were expected to lose, against India at home in August/September and in Sri Lanka last month. Collingwood's only setbacks came in September during the World Twenty20 Championship when England were knocked out at an early stage and he was spotted out at a lap-dancing bar in Cape Town. If he gets the top job, they will all be dancing on the tables in Durham.