“I know a lot will be said and written about our defeat to New Zealand at Seddon Park over the weekend. Different opinions are being offered for our defeat, but as the man at the helm, only Michael knows the real reasons.
“Yes, our bowling was one of the reasons for our defeat. But not in the way the media thinks. Yes, Harmy didn’t quite fire. But don’t tell me you expected it. We don’t come into a game thinking Harmy’s going to win it for us. It’s a team game, isn’t it, so we expect the ten others to cover for Harmy. To be honest, Harmy exceeded our (and his own, I think) wildest expectations: he bowled just the one wide in the entire game, didn’t he. Remember his first test in the Southern hemisphere last season? Our bowling disappointment has really been Ryan. The test would have meandered into a draw if Ryan had just followed the script: the hat-trick hastened the game and created a result. Monty’s three wickets didn’t help either. It was a dead wicket otherwise.
“Some insightful statisticians might point out that we played 228.1 overs in the test to score 458 runs, at a rate of just over two runs per over, and that if we had scored just one run more per over, we would have won comfortably. Well, it’s all well for critics to say that, but we have a responsibility to the test game. If we start treating test matches like one-dayers and play our strokes, we’d become responsible for killing the test game. No, Michael can’t take that to his grave. And don’t forget, it was a dead wicket – for batsmen as well. Sure, New Zealand scored at more than three runs per over in both their innings, I think Twenty20 is getting to them.
“I think we need to calibrate the media’s expectation with the English cricket team. Michael won the Ashes for them in 2005, in what is England’s greatest sporting achievement forever. But look at what England has achieved after that in the test arena. Thanks to Darrell and those inconsistent Pakistanis, England has managed to win against them. But they lost to Australia (lost? more like lambasted) away, to India at home, to Sri Lanka away. And I’m sure I’m forgetting some other lost series. With all that background, you expect us to win now? Come on, you might as well ask Harbhajan to keep quiet. Or Harmy to win matches, come to that.
“As with most disasters, there are some positives we can take out of the game. Vaughan scored a fifty in the first innings, so no one can say he’s in the team only because of his captaincy. Colly’s second innings stonewall shows that just because he is England’s one-day captain doesn’t mean he cannot defend. Monty’s heroic effort with the bat in the second innings means we have a spinning all-rounder for the first time after Ashley. And most importantly, considering where England is now, there is only one way ahead.”
(Michael Vaughan didn’t give this interview to the media after the Dunedin disaster as he was busy discussing James Whitaker’s travel plans.)