Gift of Timing

With only one subject in town - for a couple of days at least - it's hard not to be repetitive and unoriginal when writing about the end of Michael Vaughan's career.

The first thing to say that is that it didn't come as a surprise. One of the hardest things in the world for a great sportsman to admit is that the past has gone and he has no chance of reclaiming it. But Vaughan is nothing if not decisive, and once he realised that his time in an England shirt had gone for good there was no earthly way he was going step back on to the county treadmill. The modern England captain's financial and spiritual comfort zone - the Sky commentary box - surely awaits, although, for no obvious reason, I think he might just do a little more with the rest of his life, even if it's only coaching.

Two personal memories, both of which I've mentioned here before:

His 197 against India at Trent Bridge in August 2002 was the first time he'd really loosened his shackles at international level and shown what he was capable of. I was there, and I still regard that Saturday afternoon as one of the most enjoyable of my cricket-watching life. No England batsman, except Vaughan himself, has batted with the same blend of dominance and elegance since.

The other is more impressionistic, but when Vaughan was in charge of England in the field everything seemed right with the world. Like Richard Hill, from another time and another sport, or Shivnarine Chanderpaul, you felt that that was what he was put on earth to do. He was no tactical genius, but there was a permanent air of assured command which led you to believe that if there was a particularly tough question, he would always find the answer.

By announcing his retirement during the relative lull between the end of the World Twenty20 and the resumption of the battle for the Ashes, Vaughan has shown that his gift for good timing hasn't completely deserted him.

Time to reflect on the fact that he'll be a long time gone, time also to think about a future without him.

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