Sydney: England opener Michael Vaughan went into the Ashes untested against Australia and came out as the top cricketer of the series.
The 28-year-old had a reputation for scoring runs, but said he wasn’t completely sure of himself until he’d faced an Australian bowling attack containing Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne and compared himself against rival openers Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.
His freewheeling 183 propelled England to a match-winning 452 for nine declared in the fifth Test and increased his return for the series to 633 runs, including three centuries.
That made him the most successful English batsman on an Australian tour since Geoffrey Boycott amassed 657 in 1970-71. The performances earned Vaughan awards for the Man of the Match in Sydney and the Man of the Series.
The most prolific Test batsman in 2002 with 1,481 runs from 26 innings, he started 2003 in horrible fashion with a duck in the first innings of the new year’s Test at the SCG. But he stroked 27 boundaries and a six in the second innings to set England on track for its first first-class win of the tour, following Test losses in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Melbourne.
His average of 63.3 just topped Hayden, Australia’s leading scorer with 496 runs at 62.
England captain Nasser Hussain said Vaughan hadn’t been a totally unexpected revelation on tour, saying his resilience, stubborn persistence and off-field character would continue to help his batting improve with time.
“He’s got it just about right. He’s playing very well,” Hussain said. “Sometime in the future, he might make a very good England captain.”
Australian skipper Steve Waugh said Vaughan had produced one of the best ever performances by an English tourist in the Ashes.
“To get three big hundreds in a losing side against probably the best attack in the world and playing away from your own country, that’s a great performance and maybe one of the best in Ashes history,” Waugh said.
Waugh said Vaughan had great temperament, one of the most important traits for an opener. “He’s got all the shots, off the front foot... He can play the short ball, he looks an excellent player,” Waugh said.