Michael Vaughan's extended absence from the England side caused many to wonder why on earth he remained the official skipper, and whether he would be able to stomach another Test. Yet, in his eight Test since he returned after 18 months out, he is now averaging 52. And it would have been higher still but for today's freakish dismissal.
Vaughan returned at number three; due to Andrew Strauss' problems, he had to be moved up to opener for this series. Reunited with the position from which he produced his stupendous run of form in 2002/03, his superb play today brought back memories of this run: the characeristically disdainful pull of the front-foot; the peerless off-side driving; and the dexterity against spin. It also put to bed all doubts over whether Vaughan can captain and open the batting. Together with Alistair Cook, he added England's first century opening stand for 15 Tests. It would be wise if the two are afforded the opportunity to allow their partnership to blossom.
The decision to resign the ODI captaincy has been vindicated too: England have shown real improvement under Paul Collingwood in games Vaughan's knee could have done without. His single-mindedness in returning to international cricket, and performing so terrifically, bears resemblance to that of Sourav Ganguly, similarly written off. For a player who times the ball so imperiously and possesses such palpable class, the England skipper's Test average of 43 is at least five runs too low. If he carries on playing with the ablomb that characterised his 87, however, that will only improve - so long as Vaughan refrains from indulging in his penchant for the freakish dismissal.