Vaughan wants England buzzing
Captain Michael Vaughan claims his side need to get their “buzz” back if they are to win the npower Test series against South Africa.
Vaughan admitted the changes to the Test side this week was a contributing factor in the 10-wicket defeat by the South Africans at Headingley Carnegie, which put them 1-0 down with two to play.
Reigning England player of the year Ryan Sidebottom was ruled out through injury on the first morning and Australian-raised bowler Darren Pattinson came into a five-man attack.
And although talismanic all-rounder Andrew Flintoff returned to balance the side, the collective performance of batsman and bowlers did not match the tourists.
“There are obviously areas where we can improve, and we hope we can come up with a side that can be better balanced and can beat South Africa at Edgbaston,” said Vaughan.
“I always have a huge belief in being a unit, having togetherness in Test match cricket - and we didn’t feel as much of a unit this week as we did last.
“We need to get that buzz back: if we can do that, we can still win the series.”
Flintoff came in for batting all-rounder Paul Collingwood who has suffered a disappointing run of form with the bat.
But England’s top five, who had helped to post 593 for eight declared in the first innings at Lord’s could only manage 203 all out in overcast conditions after being put into bat.
“The whole Friday morning unsettled the team. You change the team by two players, have players moving out of position and leave someone like Paul Collingwood out...of course it has an effect,” Vaughan said.
“You could see he was very disappointed, and people were disappointed for him.
“But a lot of us are experienced and we still should and could have coped with it better.
“We got ourselves in a half-decent position, 110 for three, and then played like millionaires in the afternoon.”
South Africa’s disciplined two days at the crease then exposed England’s lack of penetration on a slow surface and raised questions about the selection of Nottinghamshire’s Pattinson.
“It does look a confused selection - but the selection of one person does not lose you a Test match,” said Vaughan. “We lost a Test match because we didn’t play well enough.
“Darren has taken a lot of criticism. It’s not his fault; he got selected and he turned up and tried his guts out - and at times he bowled some good spells.
“I felt sorry for him, because he’d obviously not been in the set-up, around the environment - and didn’t know anyone. That makes it very, very difficult for him to play.
“One man didn’t lose us the Test match; the collective unit lost us the Test match.”
South Africa captain Graeme Smith was keen to savour the moment after leading his country to a record 28th victory - surpassing Hansie Cronje’s total - but wary that England have come from behind to avoid defeat in the series of 1994, 1998 and 2003.
“The stats, at the end of the day, you look at them but it’s what you feel inside the dressing room that makes a difference when you are going somewhere as a team,” Smith said.
“I have a fantastic group of players around me so that’s more important for me than those stats.
“Edgbaston offers us the opportunity to close the series out and we’ll be building towards that.”
While England were left to rue what might have been had Vaughan’s annulled catch stood against Hashim Amla on the first evening when the score was 76 for three, South Africa were thankful to hefty hundreds from man-of-the-match Ashwell Prince and AB de Villiers.
“We played the big moments better,” said Smith. “This was also an outstanding bowling performance.
“There wasn’t a lot on offer. There was a little bit of reverse swing but we had to create a lot of pressure and we did.
“England played a little bit frantically in the first innings, offered us a lot of chances, and it was nice to see our bowlers back to where they have been.”