Cricket: Michael Vaughan back’s South Yorkshireman Colin Graves to sort out England ‘soap opera’

Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan

Sheffield’s Michael Vaughan hopes South Yorkshireman Colin Graves may be just the man to provide the change needed to snap English cricket out of its own “soap opera”.

Former Ashes-winning captain Vaughan has likened the ongoing sagas which beset England to the stuff of broadcast drama, adding: “If any producer is willing, make a movie.”

The current mixed messages about Kevin Pietersen’s chances of resurrecting his international career, despite being sacked by the England and Wales Cricket Board 13 months ago, may have their origins in an opening salvo from incoming chairman Graves.

Even so, Vaughan believes Graves, who grew up in Thorne and established the Costcutter retail chain, could well be just what is needed to help England out of an era in which it appears the Pietersen intrigue simply will not go away.

Vaughan is also “staggered” at Alastair Cook’s remarks on Wednesday - just as England were naming their squad to travel under his captaincy for three Tests to the West Indies.

Cook claimed that hindsight probably proved coach Peter Moores and his fellow selectors were wrong to remove him as their World Cup captain at the 11th hour.

Michael Vaughan

Michael Vaughan

Eoin Morgan took over and England endured a miserable campaign which ended last week with defeat and elimination at the hands of Bangladesh - before the knockout stages.

Graves will not officially begin his tenure until May, when he is due to succeed Giles Clarke, and Vaughan senses his arrival can only help.

“The game needs a change; it needs someone to come in and say ‘the past is the past’, and to start afresh,” he said on Test Match Special.

“Graves is clearly going to do that - obviously it’s going to ruffle a few feathers, but maybe that’s what they need.

Colin Graves

Colin Graves

“Change is sometimes difficult for people, but English cricket needs it.”

Graves has already served notice that he will do things his way by indicating in a radio interview that Pietersen - axed after England’s whitewash 2013/14 Ashes defeat - may yet have a route back into favour if he can make first-class runs in county cricket this summer.

That suggestion has conspicuously not been corroborated since by national selector James Whitaker, Cook, or ECB managing director Paul Downton - who described Pietersen as “disengaged” with his team-mates before his sacking.

Vaughan added, however: “All Colin Graves said is he is going to meet Kevin Pietersen.

England's Jonathan Trott

England's Jonathan Trott

“He will have a chat and is not promising anything.

“It is clear that for Kevin to have any hope of playing for England, and it is only a small hope, he has got to play county cricket.”

There is one way, Vaughan points out, for England to move on from controversial record-breaking batsman Pietersen - by scoring big runs in his absence, and winning matches.

They have been unable to do so in one-day international cricket, since last summer’s Test series win over India, under either Cook or most recently Morgan.

“You have to look at the way England have played for a period, which has not been great,” said Vaughan.

“Just maybe this is a fantastic motivational tool.

“If the team don’t want Pietersen in the side, then go to the West Indies and win 3-0.

“Play better, score more runs and win more games - and Pietersen will never play again.”

“Soap opera” or not, there are a clutch of new faces hoping to take part for England after being named in the latest Test squad.

Among them is Yorkshire batsman Adam Lyth, who seems set to compete with the returning Jonathan Trott for a position at the top of the order alongside Cook.

Lyth, who has already celebrated with an unbeaten Twenty20 half-century for the county champions against Middlesex in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, said of his Caribbean call-up: “I was hoping for it, and when it came I was shocked.

“I am very excited and can’t wait to join the England lads next month.

“I have made many sacrifices to get to this position. I hope I can now become a Test player in the Caribbean.

“The next step is to impress the captain and coach, and hope I can get selected for that first game.

“I had a positive England Lions tour [this winter], where I felt I batted well against strong opposition in South Africa.

“I just need to be given the opportunity to do it on the Test stage, and I hope that will start in the West Indies.”