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Lead role still being wrongly handled.

Byline: By Jack Bannister

The England captaincy has been totally botched from the time when Michael Vaughan returned from Pakistan 12 months ago until his reappointment for the forthcoming one-day series including Australia and New Zealand.

The announcement underlines two things' the huge risk in returning the leadership to a man who is as short of match fitness as were several of the England side seven weeks ago in Brisbane -including Andrew Flint-off, who would be justified in thinking he has been hung out to dry by the selectors.

Duncan Fletcher has clearly had enough of criticism he thinks is misplaced. "We feared that the workload was too great for 'Freddie' on a tour like this. It is a lot to ask of him, because he has only captained in six Tests before this tour and he's not captained a county side either," said the England coach.

Fletcher has now revealed the misgivings he held last September and points the finger firmly at David Graveney and Geoff Miller, who thought differently.

The danger is that England could lose both players' Vaughan if his knee buckles once more after four operations and Flintoff because his bowling future is doubtful after an operation to his left ankle. If he can't bowl properly for decent spells, he cannot be picked for his batting alone.

He should get through the minimum of nine matches in Australia, starting tomorrow with a Twenty20 contest. The same cannot be said of Vaughan, which is why his reappointment is ill-timed and could be the biggest botch-up of all.

Ashes reflections Page 26
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jan 8, 2007
Words:264
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