Vaughan stretches towards fitness

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Michael Vaughan continued his comeback from a knee operation with a solid workout for the England Academy in a one-day game against Western Australia second XI here.

Batting at No 4 on a slow pitch, Vaughan survived an early scare to make a sedate nine before miscuing a drive to mid-on.

The England captain first faced a local seamer, Tim McDonald, who had made his first-class debut only last week in Sydney. The first ball Vaughan received was an inswinger and rapped the pads but McDonald's loud appeal for leg before were in vain.

Western Australia's bowling was disciplined, if a little wide, and Vaughan, who made a duck in his first game back from injury last week, was content to leave most deliveries, so there were few highlights for the TV cameras and small crowd that had gathered to analyse his every move. Instead, there were overs of graft and repetition, with Vaughan pinching the odd single as the run rate barely exceeded two an over.

However, the demands of a 50-over match required an acceleration in tempo and, after 40 minutes at the crease, a moment of aggression did for Vaughan. He attempted a lofted shot off McDonald to mid-on but just succeeded in giving a simple catch to Liam Davis.

Nevertheless, there were no signs of any problem with his knee, which also withstood the demands of fielding at third man and mid-on.

He patrolled third man chatting breezily to the locals and signing autographs and then loitered at mid-on, offering nuggets of advice to Stuart Broad, the bowler, and Robert Key, the captain There seemed little discomfort and no revealing reflex clutches to the knee joint after any exertion.

Deep square leg to Jamie Dalrymple was tougher and he sprinted in from and around the boundary without reservation. Only occasionally was there a hint of a limp or him favouring one side in his movement.

Others came and went as the fielders swapped but Vaughan remained till the end, which proved to be a bitter one. West Australia chased down their target of 226 with two overs to spare, Owais Shah having top-scored for the Academy with 115 from 153 balls, but few people seemed too interested in the result.

What did intrigue was the sight of Vaughan in the latter overs dashing from the boundary, picking up one-handed and hurling the ball in one motion. This skill was performed at full stretch, and even though it did not result in a run out, did suggest that he was gaining confidence in his body.