Former England Test captain, Michael Vaughan speaks to Yorkshire Life
PUBLISHED: 23:20 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:05 20 February 2013
Yorkshire cricket star Michael Vaughan talks to Chris Titley about the Ashes, regaining his England place and his new life in business PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOAN RUSSELL
It's typical cricket weather at Headingley - yep, bucketing down. Michael Vaughan is running late, and is further delayed by an unannounced drugs test, the bane of the professional sportsman.
Finally he bounds up the empty seats to the Taverners Bar, shakes my hand with a fierce grip, fixes me with penetrating blue eyes, and starts to chat.
There is a lot of cricket talk, of course; about whether England's most successful captain will get back in the national side, about that glorious summer when he led us to Ashes victory over the Aussies, about Yorkshire's prospects. But before we get to that, the subject turns to golf.
Golf? Michael is a big fan of the game - 'the less I play the better I am' - and now he's teamed up with friend and golfing great Lee Westwood to create a world-beating course at Flaxby.
'Yorkshire deserves to have a five-star complex with major tournaments coming to our region,'
'We'll be putting together a proposal to hopefully bring the Ryder Cup to Yorkshire; also the Solheim Cup, the ladies competition which has never taken place in England before; and the British Masters. 'We want to make sure that we are competing with the best developments in the country and in Europe as well.
There isn't any point doing something if you don't set out to be the best.' In some ways this is a new Michael Vaughan. Not a sportsman but a businessman, head of corporate leisure at York-based property developers the Skelwith Group which is about to build the biggest luxury hotel in the North.
The five-star Flaxby Country Resort, just off the A1 between York and Harrogate, will include more than 300 rooms (one of which was bought by Michael, reportedly for 100,000), four helipads, three restaurants and a luxury spa complex, all set around that golf course.
There'll be a Michael Vaughan sports bar too - 'We'll try and make it as traditional Yorkshire as we possibly can,' he says. But in another way this is the same old Vaughany that cricket lovers know - thoughtful, determined, and out to beat all-comers. The only trouble is, won't the golf course and sports bar distract him from the business at hand?
'I'm completely focused on cricket as we speak now,' insists the 34 year-old. 'But in the winter I only went away for a few weeks. I had a lot of time to nip up for the odd meeting. I guess in two or three years' time if I decide to hang up the bat and the boots I'll put a bit more time into the business.'
A winter at home for the first time since 1997 also gave him rare and
valued family time with his wife Nichola and their two children, five year-old Tallula and Archie, who is three. And the boy is already sports mad. 'It's all he wants to do. Cricket, golf, football,' says his dad, half proud, half exasperated. 'Watch this space!'
For Michael this summer is all about leather on willow. 'I want to get in the Ashes team and I still feel there's a good chance of me doing that if I can get a couple of big hundreds for Yorkshire,'Michael says.
'I've enjoyed being with Yorkshire, but ultimately I want to play for England.'
One man who is very sure he'll return is Sir Michael Parkinson. 'I do think he'll come back,' Parky told me last year. 'He's a quality player.' But Vaughan has struggled with injury and form and was not selected for the Test series against the West Indies, which England won at a canter.
'The average player worries about all these little things and doesn't really analyse the game,' he says. 'You can have a couple of weeks where things don't go your way, but as long as you're doing everything right and you feel good in yourself big scores will come, and that's how I feel at the minute.' If sitting at Headingley Carnegie Stadium watching the rain lash Leeds and wondering if he'll play again for England counts as a career low,
Michael Vaughan has enjoyed some spectacular highs. He'll always be remembered as the man who led his country to the first Test series victory over the Aussies in 16 years in 2005. The celebrations included an open-top bus tour of London and an OBE from the Queen. 'It took a lot of hard work. That didn't happen overnight. It was two years of planning, preparation, building a team together to try and take on Australia and we did that.
'Hopefully we can recreate that series this summer. The most important thing is that we try and be competitive. If we win it'll be great for the game and for English cricket.'
As for Yorkshire, Michael admits the team had an indifferent start to the season, but he predicts better things. 'We've got a good squad.We've just got to make sure when the big stages come that we're mentally ready to take them on and be successful.'
Whatever happens next, he's forever established as a giant of English sport, and as such has friends in very high places.Will he be bringing them to Yorkshire to stay at Flaxby Country Resort? With prices perhaps hitting 800 a night for a hotel room, it will more than likely appeal to Premiership footballers and their WAGS. 'Yeah definitely - we want to attract not just people who live up in the north, we want it to become such a good development and golf course that people will travel here. 'And obviously with my contacts I'll be asking a few of my friends in sport to play Flaxby quite regularly.'
Disappointingly he won't drop any star names. But he'll welcome his guests as a true Yorkshireman, despite his Salford origins. 'Without any question. I never consider myself to be from the other side, I never have. I moved over when I was eight. 'Everything - cricket, sport, I guess me - has all been produced on the Yorkshire side.'