So there will be no fairytale Ashes comeback for Michael Vaughan. His retirement has looked increasingly likely this season, his poor batting form – 159 first class runs at 19.88 – combining with Ravi Bopara’s excellence in the England number three spot to suggest there was little chance of an international recall.
Vaughan’s decision to pack away his bat for good has still come as a surprise to some, most notably the England selectors. Their decision to hand the former skipper a central contract this season meant they hoped he would one day return, with his bygone glories in the Test arena always an allure.
It is this Michael Vaughan that England fans will want to remember, not the uncertain, drained figure who scored 40 runs from his last five Test innings. That final, disappointing series against South Africa last year was why we wanted him to return: to have the opportunity to show why he once was the best batsman in the world.
Vaughan’s golden years of 2002 and 2003, when he scored seven centuries in 20 innings, all against the three best teams in the world, would represent an excellent career in their own right. His excellent, record-breaking captaincy elevates Vaughan’s England career to one of the very best.
He led England to more Test victories than anyone else, recording 26 wins from 51 matches as skipper, losing just 11. Reclaiming the Ashes in 2005 was one of England’s great sporting moments and every England fan knows the size of Vaughan’s contribution. However, as with all great players, it is the manner of the achievements that are significant, not just the facts and figures themselves.
We remember the silky cover drive and effortless pull shot more than the 18 Test centuries, one more than Denis Compton recorded. His captaincy made England tougher and harder to beat than they ever had been. He commanded respect from his players, opponents and commentators and always exuded the calmness that characterised his batting.
England might win the Ashes this year, but if they don’t it will reinforce the sense that Vaughan’s historic triumph in 2005, the defining moment of a fine career, was even more special than it appeared at the time.
In the meantime, make sure you stay up to date with the Ashes odds before making an informed First Test bet and, if you want to get in the betting mood, check out Betfair's fanvfan site.