England to name new captain on Monday
LONDON (Reuters) - England will name a new captain on Monday after Michael Vaughan decided to step down following his team's series loss to South Africa on Saturday.
Vaughan, 33, England's most successful captain with 26 victories in 51 tests, resigned on Sunday after South Africa took an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
His announcement was followed immediately by the news that one-day captain Paul Collingwood had also decided to quit.
England national selector Geoff Miller will announce who is to captain the England team for the final test at The Oval starting on Thursday and the subsequent one-day series at a news conference at Lord's at 1 p.m.
South African-born Kevin Pietersen, 28, is the bookmakers' favourite to lead both sides.
"This decision has been something that has crossed my mind for some time. I had every ambition to lead the England team to the next Ashes series (2009) but as England captain I feel I've run out of steam," Vaughan told a news conference at the team's training base in Lougborough.
"I believe that the best thing for the team is to embark on a new direction under a new captain."
Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, praised Vaughan's contribution to English cricket.
"Michael has been the best possible ambassador for the game and his record as captain speaks volumes for the type of character he has instilled in the England dressing room," Morris said.
Vaughan led England to their first Ashes victory over Australia for 18 years in 2005. In the previous year he was in charge of an England record eight successive test victories.
But he has been troubled by a right knee injury which kept him out of test cricket for 18 months and this year he has scored only 40 runs in five innings against South Africa.
"One of the reasons I haven't scored the runs is my mind hasn't been as fresh," he said.
Vaughan will not be available for the final test against South Africa but said he hoped to return refreshed to the test arena after a short break from the game.
"I believe these could be the best years of my playing career. I want to get my focus, come back and score plenty of runs," he said.
Collingwood, 32, endured a similar loss of form prior to scoring 135 at Edgbaston in a losing cause against the South Africans.
"I've made the decision to step down as England's one-day captain as I want to give myself the best chance to perform for England and enjoy my cricket," he said. "I feel the England captaincy impacted on my ability to enjoy my cricket and contribute to the team."
Nasser Hussain, Vaughan's predecessor as test captain, told Sky Sports Pietersen would make a "very, very good captain".
"Kevin is a fantastic player, a leader of men in the way he goes about preparing for a test match and getting things absolutely spot on, and the best men will always follow him," Hussain said.
(Editing by John Mehaffey)
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