Captain's shoulder to cry on
“Scathing attack” is probably not how James Anderson viewed his comments about Michael Vaughan when he sat down with a ghost writer to pen his biography, but that’s how they have been interpreted.
There is something very fishy about a top sportsman either wanting or agreeing to publish a book about his life and career when he’s at the peak of it. It smacks of insecurity and a kind of KP-like desire to be on the stage and in the limelight, even when they’re not.
He certainly doesn’t need the money. Unless he is obsessed by it and cannot turn down the chance to make another £50 000. Maybe even 75 or 80 000. But he’s 32 for goodness sake. What is he worried about – that nobody will remember him two months after he’s retired?
I recall writing Gary Kirsten’s biography back in 2004 well after his retirement and a 28-year-old Jacques Kallis remarking: “That’s class – you can only tell your story once it’s finished.” Hence the absence of a Kallis book. But there will be one – hopefully after 2015 and a record sixth World Cup campaign.
So Anderson says his captain during the 2005 Ashes campaign “wasn’t there for me” and that he felt alone and abandoned. “A captain should always be prepared to put his arm around his players, at least metaphorically, but he wasn’t there for me,” says Anderson in his book.
That is only part of a captain’s job, however. Vaughan is widely acknowledged as one of England’s most successful man-managing leaders and the vast majority of the players whom he led have happily said so. The opposite attribute to the ‘arm around the shoulder’ tactic is ‘tough love.’
Seven years ago Anderson was a ‘soft’ personality with a tendency to ‘disappear’ when the going got tough on the field. What Vaughan may have given him was the metaphorical slap in the face he needed, a wake-up call that made him realise that he was owed nothing and that success didn’t come easy.
Notice Vaughan’s lack of response to Anderson’s ill-timed sniping? That’s class. Releasing a biographical book at the height of your career (as so many England players have) is sad and mercenary.