Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan Desperate to Survive Unscathed

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Vaughan Desperate to Survive Unscathed

Article excerpt


MICHAEL VAUGHAN should know by this evening whether he and his World Cup team are on the march again or back to those bad old days of just limping along.

Vaughan will go a good way towards convincing everyone that a 15-month injury nightmare is finally behind him if he comes through England's opening Group C match against New Zealand in St Lucia without a hint of a hamstring strain or a wonky knee.

And victory over the higher-ranked Kiwis would strengthen their suggestion that last month's four straight victories - one against New Zealand, three over Australia - were the start of something special and not just a bright but brief interlude after so much gloom Down Under.

Having fought for 12 months against a career-threatening knee injury, Vaughan tore his left hamstring playing against New Zealand in mid-January and then aggravated the problem when attempting a comeback three weeks later.

The 32-year-old has worked furiously to get fit for a World Cup which appears to have eight possible winners. But the bottom line is that today's contest will test his body like no amount of warm up matches.

"Hopefully, I'll prove I can get through a game," said Vaughan who followed doctor's orders last week by limiting his fielding stints to a total of 30 overs during games against Bermuda and Australia. "I've trained every single day and I've had nothing go wrong with the hamstring and nothing go wrong with the knee."

Another injury to Vaughan would be a devastating blow to someone who just wants to play as much cricket as he can after missing virtually all of 2006.

But coming through today in one piece is only part of the battle for the skipper.

Losing to the Kiwis should not prevent his side from reaching the Super Eights, with games against Canada and Kenya still to come, but their chances of going on to make the semi-finals will be significantly enhanced if they can beat their fellow qualifiers and thereby take two points through to the second stage.

England, understandably enough, have shrugged off last Friday's fivewicket defeat by Australia, pointing out it was a 13a-side affair and more about getting used to conditions than the result. Even so, they made the sort of mistakes that were all too familiar before last month's revival.

Turning 122 for one into 197 all out is simply not good enough while a lack of both penetration and discipline with the new ball underlined the worrying ability of an inexperienced attack to blow cold.

Jimmy Anderson, the only bowler apart from all-rounder Andrew Flintoff with more than 50 one-day caps, kept alive his hopes of being passed fit to play, despite a broken little finger, by coming through yesterday's practice session.

No matter who is available, though, England cannot come close to matching New Zealand in terms of experience. …

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