England Cricket Players
Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2003
On September 12, 2005, Michael Vaughan secured his place in English sporting history by becoming the first captain to win an Ashes series since Mike Gatting in 1986-87. It was the culmination of a five-year journey for Vaughan, whose captaincy - calm, obdurate and ruthlessly effective - had become as classy and composed as the batting technique that, briefly, carried him to the top of the world rankings. With a priceless ability to treat triumph and disaster just the same, Vaughan faced up to his first ball in Test cricket with England four wickets down for two runs on a damp flyer at Johannesburg in 1999-2000, and drew immediate comparisons with Michael Atherton for his inhumanly calm aura at the crease. But, despite the obvious similarities between the two - from their Mancunian heritage to their indifference to sledging - Vaughan soon demonstrated he was more than just a like-for-like replacement. Once he had made the place his own, Vaughan blossomed magnificently, playing with a freedom of expression that Atherton had never dared to approach. He sparkled his way to 900 runs in seven Tests against Sri Lanka and India in 2002, the prelude to a formidable series in Australia in which he became the first visiting batsman for 32 years to top 600 runs. Despite the fact that his one-day record at the time scarcely matched up to his impressive Test figures, he was appointed captain of England's one-day side in time for the 2003 home season, and inherited the Test captaincy two weeks later when Nasser Hussain abdicated out of the blue. Hussain, astutely, had spotted Vaughan's burgeoning man-management abilities, and despite a torrid baptism, including a record-breaking defeat at Lord's, Vaughan guided his team to a 2-2 draw. After a stutter in Sri Lanka, he confirmed the arrival of a new era by routing West Indies on their home soil, the first time in three decades an England team had achieved such a feat. Returning home, he won seven out of seven Tests by whitewashing first New Zealand (3-0) then West Indies (4-0), went on to record a memorable 2-1 series win in South Africa, and then achieved Nirvana with a 2-1 triumph in arguably the greatest series of all time.