Michael Vaughan says that one day he will recreate, as perfectly as he can, all those feelings that required him to fight back the tears " 'I was closer than anyone could have imagined' " in Trafalgar Square earlier this week. But when it happens the odds are he will be an old man.
His priorities for a long time, he declared yesterday, are to do with the future and not the astonishing
glories of the past summer when the Ashes became English
property again. 'More than anything,' the England captain, said yesterday, 'I want to keep my team honest.
'I want them to focus more on what they can do in the future than what they have already achieved. I know that's a lot, in some ways they exceeded all my hopes, but great teams have a hunger which the Australians displayed for so long " and I think they will show that again when we go there in 18 months' time. It means that starting this winter in Pakistan and India we all have one great obligation. We have to grow. We have to believe that we have started a job that we must finish.'
As the 'boys of summer', including new legends like Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff and Kevin 'KP' Pietersen, relax away from the front line, their captain has spelled out the imperative that must stay at the front of their minds. 'They have created huge expectations in the nation and they must meet them. We all have that duty,' Vaughan said.
As Vaughan relived the Ashes campaign " he told of how he delivered his version of the 'England expects' speech to the young hero Pietersen in the Oval pavilion last Monday, how he and the coach, Duncan Fletcher, forcefully reminded the players of the challenge they faced on behalf of the nation and themselves as they gathered in the Edgbaston committee room for the critical second Test following a savage defeat at Lord's " his thoughts invariably turned to the future. At times he echoed the speech of Britain's most successful golfer, Nick Faldo, after he won back- to-back US Masters titles. Then, Faldo said: 'The British public may understand how hard it is to get to the top of the world in any sport. What I sometimes doubt is if they know how hard it is to stay there.'
Plainly, it is a problem Vaughan has already engaged, even before the Oval cheers, and those of the great victory salute in Trafalgar Square, have lost little or none of their resonance.
After working with young competition winners at his county Yorkshire's indoor academy, and for his sponsor, Quorn, Vaughan would make only one firm promise to the team which he led into history. 'Their places in the team are guaranteed only by their hard work, their willingness to do again what they did so magnificently when it mattered this last summer.
'What's most exciting of all to me is the possibilities of the future. The [possibilities] have to be so good when this young team have beaten the number one team in the world in the most incredible circumstances.
'The pressures and the challenges went way beyond what we expected with the levels of expectation going into the last game at the Oval...and they were asked to bat the last day out, and they did it so convincingly. That told me I had so much character at my disposal, but then I also know that you are only as good as your back-up... It means that you have to keep building and it's so important we keep getting young players pushing the team and making sure everybody stays honest... That is what it is going to take to stay in the team.'
For Vaughan, the moment of everybody's truth came in the Oval pavilion at lunchtime on the last day of the final Test of the series which was played as though it was the last will and testament of one great team and one that aspired to be so.
He took Pietersen to one side for the one-on-one that provoked the innings that finally delivered the Ashes. 'In the morning I told everyone that they just had to bat as if was not the last day but the first. …