Michael Vaughan last night accepted that a confused selection policy prior to the second Test played a significant role in England's 10-wicket defeat to South Africa at Headingley. Vaughan believes the selection of the Australian-reared Darren Pattinson and the omission of Paul Collingwood, two decisions the England captain had major input in, disrupted the unity of the team.
A sparkling unbeaten 67 from Stuart Broad helped England avoid the ignominy of an innings defeat to Graeme Smith's highly-competitive side, but it took the tourists just seven balls to score the nine runs they needed to take a 1-0 lead in the four-Test series.
"What happened on Friday morning did look confusing," admitted a downbeat Vaughan. "All the changes, whether they were to the team or positions in the team, unsettled things. We did not feel as much of a unit this week as we felt in the first Test at Lord's. Unity is something I always have a huge belief in. I want a real togetherness and for some reason we did not have that. Over the next week we have to get that feel, that buzz back, which wasn't there.
"When you change a side by two players you have players moving out of position. When you leave a player like Paul Collingwood out, who is a huge player in the side, it has an effect but we still should have been better. Many of us are experienced players but we should have coped better.
"We got ourselves in a half decent position on the first day at 106 for 3 and then we played like millionaires in the afternoon, and that is why we did not get the big score we needed. But the selection of one person does not lose you a Test match. We lost the Test because we did not play well enough."
The dropping of Collingwood was widely expected before the Test but very few people predicted that a 29-year-old Grimsby-born Aussie with just 11 games of first-class experience would become the 640th player to represent England. Despite some reports, Pattinson is a decent bowler; a bowler England hoped would exploit the overcast conditions at the start of the Test, and Vaughan has sympathy for the way in which his international debut has been covered. "It is difficult when a player enters the dressing room that most do not know," said the England captain. "But I feel sorry for Darren. He has been given a lot of criticism and it is not his fault. He was selected and he turned up and tried his guts out, and at times he bowled some good spells.
"He has not been in the set-up or around the environment. He did not know anyone and we did not know him so it was very, very difficult for him to fit in. I don't know whether it affected the other players in the dressing room, I haven't heard that it did, but we did not play as a unit and that is what disappointed me more than anything.
"Collingwood has been in the side and he was disappointed to be dropped, as were the players, too. I normally tell the players the team the day before because it settles them. Everyone knows where they are but injuries prevented us from doing that this time and it caused a little bit of confusion. What happened here will be a talking point for a while but my job is to make sure next week at Edgbaston we know where we are."