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What A Week That Was....  

 

and nobody could have predicted quite what a week it would be.
Any thoughts of the England team being in for an easy ride have been cleared from our heads. This South African team mean business and their opening batsmen, skipper Graeme Smith and Herschel Gibbs, deserve massive credit.
Itís one thing to go out and bat on a flat, placid wicket when the bowling isnít at its best, but itís another to score 270 and 170 and almost

beat the opposition into early submission. Itís fair to say that we handed the initiative back towards South Africa on the first day.
But whatever shock we received in a match that would be eventually drawn, was nothing compared to what followed. We knew that Nasser Hussain would be standing down as skipper at some stage, but nobody thought it would be right now.
I suppose there were clues. Nasser did not appear to be deploying his troops with the same kind of gusto that he normally brings to the field. It was a strangely muted first day, not helped by the onslaught from Smith and Gibbs which helped set up the 600 England had to face. It was a huge statement coming as it did on the first day of a new series and it immediately put Hussain and England under pressure.
Step forward Michael Vaughan who went out to play what he rightly acknowledged was the best innings of a career that has already had many glittering ones. His battle against Shaun Pollock with the new ball was nothing less than fascinating. It was bowling and batting from the top drawer.
Vaughan refused to buckle, eventually saw off Pollock and then he began to play the shots we have become accustomed to seeing from him aided by some bright knocks from Marcus Trescothick, Freddie Flintoff and Ashley Giles.
The match was saved but that was not the end of the fun as chaotic scenes greeted the news that Hussain was making way for Vaughan. It was a very brave decision to take and Nasser conducted himself with dignity throughout.
Nasser hands over a team that is better than the one he first came into and when he is judged, much credit must go to how he has handled himself and the team, particularly in the series wins against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
Now Michael has the chance to show that he can do with the Test side what he achieved with the one-dayers. Five-day captaincy is a much different proposition and ideally he would have had more than two days to prepare for the English gameís greatest honour.
It will not faze Michael that captaincy has arrived sooner than anticipated. He comes into the job fresh and relaxed and backed by the nucleus of his one-day side. We wish him well.

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