Vaughan 'one of England's greats' says Flintoff

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The Independent Online

Andrew Flintoff led the tributes after former England captain Michael Vaughan announced his retirement from cricket today.

Yorkshire batsman Vaughan is England's most successful test skipper, with 26 wins from 51 matches.

"He was unflappable," said Flintoff on the eve of England's three-day practice game with Warwickshire. "There could be mayhem all around him and he would just stand there as if nothing was happening, whether the side was 500 for none or 90 for nine.

"He always looked pretty poker-faced," the all-rounder told reporters. "He gave confidence to his team ... he helped me as a player and he was a mate as well.

"He will go down as one of the greats of the English game." Vaughan, 34, who scored 18 centuries in 82 tests, was captain at the time Kevin Pietersen came into England's one-day team in 2004 when the South African-born batsman had to return to his native country and confront a hostile crowd.

"Michael was huge for me," said Pietersen who hit three centuries in that one-day series.

"One of the first things he said to me, when I came in at the Wanderers when 60,000 people looked as though they wanted to kill me, was `the ball's white, the ball's round and do whatever you have done to get here'.

"That calmed me right down from being a jibbering wreck when I walked on to that field to the player I am now. That's all I do now, I just watch the ball, not think about any rubbish," added England's leading batsman.

"Michael is a great leader of men and you learn a lot from guys like that."

Andrew Strauss, who will lead England in next week's first Ashes test against Australia in Cardiff, agreed Vaughan was a brilliant skipper.

"It's hard to speak highly enough about him as England captain," Strauss said. "He is the best captain I've played under, that goes for any form of cricket.

"His achievements can't be underestimated, the way he took the team forward, the relaxed way he was able to get us playing cricket.

"A lot of the stuff was behind the scenes, the way he dealt with players on a one-to-one basis was exceptional, and he cared," said Strauss.

"It's important to remember what a great player he was. It's a sad day."