Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Marvel at Their Stability

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

England Marvel at Their Stability

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID LLOYD

MICHAEL VAUGHAN and Duncan Fletcher have worked themselves into quite a double act for England.

Vaughan is the captain whose laid-back approach to leadership has encouraged his team of talented individuals to blossom while coach Fletcher remains the straight guy, plotting, planning and apparently never panicking behind the scenes.

The results, especially this year, have been spectacular with England winning 10 of 11 Tests and securing three thumping series victories.

But it wasn't always like that for either man - and their return to South Africa this week reminds them of a time when the side was anything but settled.

Both Vaughan and Fletcher began their England careers here five years ago.

Vaughan was one of several newcomers in a squad that even cricket anoraks might struggle to name now while Fletcher had just taken on the coaching role after spells with Glamorgan and Western Province.

"When we came out here in 1999 I'd basically only met the captain, Nasser Hussain, about a month before the tour," recalled Fletcher. "And I didn't know some of the players when they walked into the hotel at the airport."

Vaughan was one of them.

They both knew a good deal more about each other, however, after the first Test of that South Africa series.

Vaughan - on debut - found himself at the crease in Johannesburg with England facing humiliation on two for four.

Fletcher, by all accounts, was the only person in the visitors' dressing room at The Wanderers not in a flap.

Out in the middle, meanwhile, Vaughan dug 33 character-building runs from the rubble of an innings damaged beyond repair - and that, too, offered hope.

Now, in 2004, it is England who are on a roll, riding high in the Test rankings behind only Australia, while South Africa have slipped to sixth place and are trying to halt the slide. …

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