TWO Yorkshire and England cricketing legends, one obsession, no compromise.
There’s bound to be sparks when Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan and master Barnsley batsman Geoffrey Boycott get together on-air during the BBC’s Test Match Special programme. And there usually is.
Both forthright and bluff, both with strong opinions and expert knowledge honed by years at the crease, in the nets and dressing rooms at county and Test Match levels. But actually they quite like each other and Michael Vaughan has nothing but respect for his radio sparring partner.
“I have never been intimidated by anyone,” said 37-year-old Vaughan, who retired from cricket in June 2009.
“I just take people for what they are and I take Geoffrey Boycott for what he is, but if you bow down to him and and let him intimidate you he will.
“I really like Geoffrey - though he used to drive me mad as a player. He has to stir things up a bit on the radio but that’s what he’s there for to give his opinions and that’s fine. He is good to listen to.”
Michael Vaughan is under no illusions as to the privileged position he and his fellow Yorkshireman hold as a members of the Test Match Special team and has little patience for those who take it for granted.
“It drives me mad when you hear commentators complaining about having to travel overseas to away games. They are in a great position and they ought to realise that.
“The best thing about commentary for me is that you are comfortable in what you are doing and happy to talk about it. It’s a great job. Because I was England captain and interviewed so many time I was used to speaking into a microphone - though I can be a lot more honest than I was as England captain when you have to tell a few lies for the sake of keeping things within the team.”
So who else does he admire in the sporting commentary box?
“Roy Keane is different class as an expert summariser. He gets right to the heart of stuff and tells it straight. With the TV commentators it’s like a cricket or football team you have to keep freshening things up. You can’t stick with the same team all the time or people get stale. They begin to think they are part of the furniture.”
One man who has been part of the England team furniture for a decade is Kevin Pietersen who recently announced his retirement from limited-overs cricket.
Michael Vaughan thinks Pietersen might rue the day.
“We were all surprised when Kevin Pietersen announced that he was retiring from the one-day game. It was a bit of a shock really. In ten years time he might regret that decision. When you are fully immersed in sport as a professional you think it’s really tough but I can tell them that when you get in the real world it is a damn sight tougher.”
In Michael Vaughan’s real world there may well be another piece of good news emerging from within the Vaughan household.
Perhaps another top cricketer on the way?
Michael’s son Archie, at the tender age of six is already impressing the coaches at Sheffield’s Collegiate Cricket Club.
“He’s got a chance,” says dad. “His passion for cricket is there without me pushing him. He loves to play and we’re always out in the garden.”
Time will tell how Archie turns out but dad knows all about the failure rate of promising young sportsmen, a subject close to his heart and one he wants to document.
“What I would really like to do is a series on players and athletes who have to give the game or their sport up at an early age, in their early to mid-20s. Most of them have no experience of anything else and not much education because they have always dedicated themselves to sport. I think that would make fascinating study.”
So what else does the future hold for Michael Vaughan?
“I would like to be the best broadcaster I can be. I really enjoyed doing the documenatries for the BBC on sports people in retirement. When you first start broadcasting after a sporting career it’s easy because everyone wants to hear about your time in the team.
“Now I try to give my honest opinion on what’s going on and have my say on things. That’s a great position to be in and I appreciate that.”