Vaughan handed central deal

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The Independent Online

Former captain Michael Vaughan was today named among a dozen England players to be centrally-contracted for the next year.

Vaughan, 33, was rewarded with a 12-month deal despite his lack of form for Yorkshire since relinquishing the Test leadership last month.

Only Michael Atherton captained England on more occasions than the 51 Vaughan managed and no-one comes close in terms of Test wins as skipper.

When he announced his decision to step down from the job, he emphasised his need to justify his place as a batsman, but has since failed four times in County Championship innings.

Nevertheless, he clearly remains in the plans of new captain Kevin Pietersen and national selector Geoff Miller today confirmed Vaughan's award at a press conference at Lord's.

"The award of an England central contract to Michael Vaughan reflects the selectors' view that Michael still has a role to play in the England Test squad over the next 12 months," Miller said.

"As we build toward the Ashes in 2009, we feel that Michael's experience of previous Ashes campaigns and his excellent personal record against Australia will be an important asset to the squad."

Vaughan was man of the series during the 2002-03 Ashes defeat and led his country to the most memorable of wins over the Australians in 2005.

The only change in the group of centrally-controlled players, in fact, comes in the bowling department with Vaughan's Yorkshire team-mate Matthew Hoggard being replaced by Nottinghamshire's Stuart Broad.

"Stuart has made rapid progress over the past year and adapted extremely well to the challenges of both Test and one-day international cricket," Miller added.

Seven players - Tim Ambrose, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Graeme Swann and Luke Wright - have been awarded England 'increment' contracts for the same period.

These replace previous summer deals for those individuals pinpointed for international action.

They will be primarily paid by their counties but receive a top-up payment from the ECB.

Others may also earn the extra payment as the increment system includes a point-scoring facet to reward appearances from this winter onwards.

Non-contracted players will be awarded five points for a Test appearance and two for a Twenty20 or ODI appearance and the accumulation of 20 points during a 12-month period will result in automatic qualification for the financial prize.

Hugh Morris, managing director England cricket, said: "The introduction of the new England Increment Contracts is designed primarily to reward players who feature regularly in the England one-day side. "The creation of a points based system also provides the selectors with the flexibility to reward new players who break into the England Test or one-day teams during the contract period."

The 12 players that have been handed annual central contracts to run from October 1, 2008 to September 30, 2009 are:

JM Anderson, IR Bell, SCJ Broad, PD Collingwood, AN Cook, A Flintoff, SJ Harmison, MS Panesar, KP Pietersen, RJ Sidebottom, AJ Strauss, MP Vaughan.