| CAPTAINíS CORNER: Pictures of former England captains at Lordís form the apt background for Michael Vaughan, who was named the ODI skipper on Tuesday
Michael Vaughanís appointment as one-day captain at Lordís Tuesday, will be the first step towards making England the best Test and one-day team in the world by 2007, last yearís bold mission statement by the England and Wales Cricket Board. It is a huge task that borders on the fanciful, but if calm, considered thought has a place in the quest, Vaughan is the man to lead the way.
Providing early disasters are kept to a minimum, and his batting form does not experience a prolonged dip as a result, he will almost certainly eventually succeed Nasser Hussain as Test captain and once more combine the two jobs.
Australiaís Ricky Ponting has taken the same route and having leap-frogged recent vice-captain, Adam Gilchrist, will take over when Steve Waugh eventually calls time on his titanic career. Vaughan has captained before at both England A and under-19 level. Yet many who show poise and leadership qualities when young, lose either the aura or the desire when the going gets tougher. Fortunately, the 28-year old Vaughan appears to have retained both, which means he will at least look and sound the part, half the battle unless your team is dispatching all before it.
By picking him ahead of Marcus Trescothick and Adam Hollioake, the other two candidates in the frame, the selectors were, give or take a few of Vaughanís clangers in the field, following the old playground rule of putting the best player in charge.
Seven Test centuries in nine months, three of them against Australia, have seen him shoot to the No. 1 slot in the world rankings, the first England player since Graham Gooch to do so.
Yet despite his annus mirabilis, Vaughan remains something of a one-day novice and after 26 one-day Internationals his top score remains 63, though this will surely change once the added responsibility tempers his wilder strokes. His captaincy style is likely to be closer to Michael Atherton than Hussain, though he holds both in great regard. Yet in addition to presence, leaders need to be present too, something Vaughanís sketchy fitness may compromise.
A rangy six-feet-two-inches, the Yorkshire player has suffered enough injuries to fill The Lancet, missing more than 10 Tests since his fiery baptism at the hands of Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock at the Wanderers in November 1999.
Vaughanís appointment, though natural and deserved now, would not have happened six months ago when Trescothick was Hussainís unofficial vice-captain and heir apparent.
As in politics, momentum is constantly shifting and since breaking his thumb last summer during a purple patch with the bat, Trescothick has seen both his technique and confidence dismantled by Australiaís bowlers over the winter.
Instead of riding the slump with bravura and a few beers at the bar, he withdrew into his shell, near fatal behaviour for a potential England captain.
As a leader, Hollioakeís qualities are not in question, but he did have possession of the England one-day job twice previously, skippering the side on 14 occasions. Ironically the loss of form that cost him the captaincy and then his place has enjoyed a strong upsurge over the past year and at 31, he could still find himself part of the side that plays Pakistan in three one-day Internationals next month.
Mainly due to his eye-catching presence at the crease and a refreshingly unchanging outlook, Vaughan has become the right choice at the right time.
In professional sport, where agents encourage their clients to be brash and outspoken in search of publicity, it is easy to mistake serenity for fortitude and intelligence. Happily in Michael Vaughanís case, the calm was there, long before any storms that captaining England may bring.