Vaughan must show patience to avoid unnecessary pressure

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The Independent Online

In spite of his general unflappability, Michael Vaughan will be irritated that he has failed to do more with the bat in any of his first three innings as England's captain. He followed his 33 and 29 at Lord's with a single in the first innings at Trent Bridge. Although there is not the remotest need for him to worry - for he is such a good player - he will now feel a fraction more pressure on him each time he bats until this particular bogey is laid. After that wonderful 156 in the first Test at Edgbaston when Nasser Hussain was still in charge, he will expect the inevitable comments suggesting that the captaincy is affecting his batting and he will not enjoy them. The England captaincy has had an unfortunate habit of affecting most of its recent incumbents in this way.

It is, too, extremely frustrating to have to sit on the pavilion balcony and watch others enjoying themselves in the middle when you have yourself managed no more than a single. It is important, too, for a new captain to score runs soon after he has come into the job for it helps him to stamp his authority on the side.

Vaughan will take heart from the example of his opposite number, Graeme Smith. The South Africa captain did not have a successful time with the bat in the recent NatWest Series one-day tournament. When it came to the Test matches the shackles were thrown off with a vengeance. Scores of 277 and 85 at Edgbaston were followed by a small matter of 259 at Lord's.

No one is suggesting that Vaughan will fill his boots to this extent. None the less, after all those mouth-watering hundreds in the last year and a bit, Vaughan has shown that he has an appetite for big scores and when the time comes, he will surely make the most of it. If the second innings at Trent Bridge does not provide the answer, he will then have the chance of putting the record straight in front of his own Yorkshire crowd at Headingley in the fourth Test.

Vaughan is a much more determined man than his smiling, easy-going appearance suggests. The South Africans will not make the mistake of underestimating him and before the series is out it will be astonishing if their bowlers have not again suffered as they did at Edgbaston. Ironically, the first day here ended with South Africa's bowlers having more serious problems than England's batsmen.

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