When watching Vaughan in full flow it's hard to imagine a more elegant batsman. He has all the strokes in the book. His straight-drives require the least of effort. His late-cut of traditional leg-spinners between first slip and gully, is full of temerity and elegance.
After having spent three long years without televised cricket in the United States, I was glad to be going back to India for the Boxing Day Fest of 2002. That winter's line-up included New Zealand vs. India, The Ashes and South Africa vs. Pakistan. My vacation turned out to be delightful.
The winter and the Ashes series belonged to Michael Vaughan - in my view, he was the best batsman at that time. But my room-mate and most of my friends were worshipping Hayden. Who could blame them? Hayden was piling on runs and it looked as if only age would stop him from breaking many of the existing records.
While Australians were destroying Caddick, Hoggard, Jones, Giles, and Harmison, Vaughan piled up more runs than any of the Australians. Vaughan scored 633 runs at an average of 63.30 with three big scores (142, 145 and 183). Hayden scored 496 runs at an average of 62.00. In terms of average there was little separating Vaughan and Hayden, but Vaughan was scoring against the better quality line-up of Warne, McGrath, Gillespie and Lee. The argument is solid.
Vaughan made 124 at Trent Bridge
A few days ago we witnessed another classy innings from Vaughan, while the rest of the English Batsmen suffered at the hands of the Indian Bowling. Vaughan remained fluent throughout his innings. His drives were near-perfect and his timing delicate.
When watching Vaughan in full flow it's hard to imagine a more elegant batsman. He has all the strokes in the book. His straight-drives require the least of effort. His late-cut of traditional leg-spinners between first slip and gully, is full of temerity and elegance. Only two other batsmen of present generation Lara and Tendulkar could execute that shot and even so, Vaughan's is the classier. When he drives, his bat seems a natural extension of the body and his body movement fluid. His style reminded Nasser Hussain of the MCC Coaching Manual. A better honor cannot be bestowed on a batsman.
Vaughan scores his runs at a quick pace too. His last innings came at a strike rate of 65 and it was on the ascendancy until that freakish dismissal. His style and scoring rate perfectly blend the old with the new with ease and elegance.
Vaughan also has the best conversion rate from fifties to hundred among current players. There are only two batsmen to have bettered him in that category and they are Don Bradman and George Headley.
In the last five years Vaughan has struggled to replicate his efforts from that Ashes series. We can blame it on his captaincy or his fitness or his fruitful real estate investments. Whatever it is! The truth remains that he hasn't fulfilled his promises from that winter of 2002. In my book, he still is the most elegant batsman in the world. My ex-roommate or anyone can dispute that, but the argument, once again, is solid.