Vaughan fit and ready to drop down England order

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The Independent Online

The England captain, Michael Vaughan, has declared himself fit for the second Test with New Zealand, and has indicated he will probably bat at No 4.

The England captain, Michael Vaughan, has declared himself fit for the second Test with New Zealand, and has indicated he will probably bat at No 4.

The Yorkshire batsman had been forced to miss the first Test, which England won by seven wickets, because of a knee injury sustained in a net session. But he made his comeback in Yorkshire's 59-run National League victory against the Scottish Saltires yesterday, making a 62-ball 32, and declared that his knee was sturdy enough to make his Test return at Headingley.

He said: "It's fine. I trained pretty hard last week and the rehab went pretty well. Plus I have come through a good game of cricket which was a good test.

"I never say there is no trouble with my knee because I have had dodgy knees for a few years now. But what happened at Lord's was just bad luck and I'm hoping it never happens again. I'm going into the game on Thursday 100 per cent fit."

Andrew Strauss, the Middlesex opener, came in for Vaughan at Lord's and marked his Test debut with a century.

With Nasser Hussain retiring after a match-winning fourth-innings century, there is now no shortage of openers in the England camp, and a vacancy in the middle order. While Vaughan insisted he would consult with the coach, Duncan Fletcher, before making a final decision, it looked likely that he would be the one dropping down the order.

He said: "I have been speaking to Duncan over the last week and I know the selectors have their own ideas. It will be announced tomorrow but there is a good chance I will go down to No 4. I'm not too fussed about it, to be honest. I always think that if you can bat, you can bat anywhere.

Strauss, who also played well in the second innings of the first Test, impressed Vaughan. "He played really well," Vaughan said. "He had played well in the Caribbean games and that always helps to get a look at the international arena.

"He came in and played fantastically well. I hope his form continues into the game on Thursday as it is a big game for England. Being 1-0 up against a good Kiwi side reminds me of when we were 1-0 up in 1999 and we let that lead slip."

Vaughan also insisted that England would be able to cope without the former captain Hussain. "Looking back over the last couple of years we have lost a lot of experienced players. We have lost Darren Gough, Alex Stewart and Michael Atherton and the team has moved on without those players," he said.

"It will be the same now Nasser has gone. He will be missed as he has been a huge part of the England team for a number of years, not least as the captain. But we will make sure the team moves on."

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