Vaughan wants England cricket team to adopt Pep Guardiola’s approach

Vaughan questioned the approach of England batters and demanded greater accountability from them

Michael Vaughan. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Pramod Thomas

FOR Michael Vaughan, Pep Guardiola is the best sporting leader in the last 15 years and the former England skipper won’t mind if Ben Stokes employs Manchester City manager’s approach of never allowing players to take their places for granted.

Vaughan made the statement on the back of England’s aggressive “Bazball” strategy under coach Brendon McCullum and Stokes which backfired in the ongoing India tour.

England have already lost the five-match series 3-1 after winning the first Test in Hyderabad.

Vaughan questioned the approach of England batters and demanded greater accountability from them.

“I often mention Pep Guardiola’s approach. In my eyes he’s the best sporting leader of this generation, say the last 15 years. He never allows his players to get comfortable. He always keeps them guessing, and they all know they are guaranteed nothing,” he wrote in a column for Daily Telegraph.

“If a great sporting leader like Pep has everyone on their toes like that, is it right that an England cricket team that is decent but struggling to crack the next level should be as comfortable as it seems? “The whole batting lineup has known week in, week out on this tour that it will be playing the next game. That is about to change, because after this tour Harry Brook will be back. He has to bat at No 5, because he should be the bedrock of their batting with Joe Root. Does that mean England’s statement moment is coming?,” he questioned.

Vaughan questioned England’s selection policy and said despite losing the series the visitors have a lot at stake to play for in the final Test in Dharamsla beginning Thursday (7).

“Consistency of selection is such a fine balance in team sports. Making people comfortable is right, and England have generally batted well over the last two years.

“There comes a point, though, where when it’s your batting that is costing you the biggest series you can’t keep sending the same guys out there every week,” he wrote.

“The series may have been lost already with a game to spare but a big week looms for England in Dharamsala. There is a massive difference between losing the series 3-2 and 4-1. You have lost either way but 3-2 would show England were right in this series for much of it, and two wins in India is an achievement.” Vaughan said a loss in Dharamsala would be a demoralising result for England.

He once again criticised England’s batters approach.

“India haven’t lost two matches in a series at home since 2012, on their run of 17 series wins in a row. 4-1 would be a very disappointing end to a disappointing winter, with the World Cup debacle, both white-ball series lost in the Caribbean and even a poor World Cup for the Under 19s,” he wrote.

“It’s a huge week for a number of England’s batsmen. When we think of this England team, we think of their wonderfully dynamic batting. But when you look at why they haven’t won any of their last three series, it’s down to the batting.”

He added, “There never seems to be much scrutiny or noise around England’s batsmen. Even last week I chuckled. They lost in Ranchi in large part because they didn’t bat well enough, but there was lots of finger pointing at Ollie Robinson, a bowler who scored an important half-century!

“He looked well short of a gallop with the ball and dropped a catch but I thought it was ironic that he became a scapegoat. It’s classic ‘batsmen vs bowlers stuff.”

Vaughan feels when it comes to team selection there should be consistency in the batting order.

“Complacency can be damaging. As a management team, how you approach selection of batsmen and bowlers is obviously different. Fast bowlers, especially, sit out games and are rightly rotated to preserve their bodies,” he wrote.

“With batsmen you want consistency. When you play like England do, backing is important. Aggressive, expansive cricket means mistakes will be made. Players need to have the confidence to take on risky shots without fear that they will be dropped immediately. That is good, and as captain I always preferred to give a player one game too many than one too few.”

In hindsight he also took a dig at McCullum and Stokes for their approach.

“I do wonder, though, if this England setup takes backing a bit too far. Since Stokes and McCullum took over, only one batsman has been dropped, and even that was the tamest dropping you will ever see,” he wrote.

“England inherited Alex Lees from the previous regime and gave him a crack, but always had their eye on Ben Duckett to open with Zak Crawley so simply moved Lees on at the end of their first summer.

“Ultimately, on any sporting team’s road to greatness, you need a moment, a rod, where every player realises ‘wow, maybe I’m not part of the furniture’. As soon as people think they are part of the furniture it creates a bit of comfortable complacency, which can be damaging.”