Michael Vaughan is a man of many words. Put any problem in front of him and the former England captain will have a solution. He might be right or he might be wrong – but he’ll have an answer. A fact which in itself is wonderfully cheering.
His ‘Yes we can do this’ attitude was the fulcrum of some of England’s most famous Test triumphs in the early part of the last decade and this mindset was on display when Vaughan sat down for a chat with Radio Times to lay out a roadmap to save the future of the game’s longest and oldest format.
The Micheal Vaughan way of fixing cricket’s problems
In latest cricket news, Vaughan was asked the question – Is the game of cricket in crisis? “No it isn’t,” he says. “Millions of people love cricket. Millions of boys and girls are playing the game, millions of people are watching the game. We need people inside the game to be more positive: don’t go around saying cricket’s knackered when it’s not.”
During his playing career, Vaughan mastered the art of doing the impossi ble. In fact, he was handed over England’s captaincy because he had no concept of the impossible and it was precisely this positive mindset which led England to a famous Ashes win in the year 2005, after a long wait of 16 years.
The final Ashes Test of the 2005 series was being played at the Oval and defeat was a real prospect for England. Vaughan had an idea, it worked like a charm and the Aussies were beaten. At lunch on the final day, England were 127 for 5 and just 120 ahead when Vaughan told Kevin Pietersen, who was 37 not out: “Go out and take them on.” Fifteen fours and seven sixes later, Pietersen was out for 158, and a famous draw was secured which ultimately won the Ashes for England.
One such problem is that way too many people are giving up cricket at a very young age, with studies and other such pressures taking their toll. Vaughan’s answer? “All clubs should play nothing but Twenty20 on a Sunday. Doesn’t take the whole day, you can have a barbecue, a bit of music: make it a festival.”
Yet another eternal issue is that the game of cricket depends on the surface on offer and youngsters generally don’t have access to good pitches, which makes it harder to enjoy the game and even harder to improve one’s skills. Typically, Vaughan has an answer: hybrid pitches, with natural and artificial elements.
“New Test league is the way forward”
The popularity of cricket has slowly but surely become inversely proportional to the length of a particular format. Five-day Test cricket – nation against nation – was once seen as the leading format. Then came the limited-overs format which went down from 65 over games to 60 and is now played in a 50 over format. Now, it is the Twenty20 format which is ruling the roost and if you want money and glory, you go and play for an Indian Premier League franchise.
Audiences for Test cricket are diminishing. There’s much sad hand-wringing going on: the most challenging form of the game – for both players and spectators – is being lost.
But Vaughan, as usual, has an idea. “The new Test league is the right way to go. But I’d have promotion and relegation. Test matches should last for four days only. Every year, there should be four blocks of six weeks when no country plays anything other than Test cricket. That way you get a story. That way there’s a meaning.”
Whether his thoughts will be implemented and work is a different matter altogether but you can’t deny the fact that the flow of Vaughan’s ideas is gloriously life-affirming and unstoppable. He’s that kind of man: look, we can do this!
WATCH: The 2005 Ashes – Michael Vaughan Hits Brilliant 166 at Old Trafford
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