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Former England captain Michael Vaughan at the official launch of Mentors Academy at GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai on Thursday. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Former England skipper Michael Vaughan feels winning a World Cup in India is like conquering Mount Everest and said he would be surprised if talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes doesn’t fancy a tilt at the 50-over showpiece.

“I would be amazed if Ben stokes isn’t in India this October. He writes his own script, but a lot depends on his dodgy knee and the Ashes takes a lot out of a player, particularly the captain. I would be amazed if he doesn’t fancy to go to India and try and win the World Cup,” Vaughan told Gulf News after being named one of the mentors for the newly launched Mentors Academy, by JMR Sporting, at GEMS Modern Academy in Dubai on Thursday.

Unfinished business

Stokes, who quit 50-over cricket last year to manage his workload and is yet to confirm his availability, has some unfinished business in India after his costly over stopped England short of winning the Twenty20 World Cup in 2016. While he made amends in Australia in 2022, guiding the Three Lions past Pakistan in the final, the Test skipper will be eager to scale the peak in India.

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Michael Vaughan, Virender Sehwag, Chaminda Vaas and Nida Dar along with JMR Sporting and GEMS officials at the launch of the GEMS Mentors Academy. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“50-over World Cup this year in India is Mount Everest. If England go and win in India on the back of winning in UK and the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, that’s phenomenal. Not many teams have done it at home and not many teams have done it in India, where the conditions are so different and so difficult to do,” Vaughan felt. “I do think that they will give it a good shot because of the mentality of the team. The hardest mentality in sport is to have the big-match temperament and England can look around the dressing room and have many players who know exactly how to play the big games.”

The former England captain again underlined his point about England’s performance in Bangladesh, where the world champions lost 3-0. Vaughan’s response on his twitter handle became the talking point after his dig at team India.

Huge pool of talent

“What impresses me about England is that they know how to peak at the right time. They just lost a Twenty20 series in Bangladesh. Great for Bangladesh, but I am not really concerned at all because England going into last year’s T20 World Cup you would look at the rankings and think England have good chance. I didn’t have them as favourites, but they won. They know how to win, how to peak and how to play the big games and how to play the big stage,” said Vaughan, who led England to an Ashes win in 2005, ending an 18-year wait.

One of the reason for England losing the series 3-0 is due to the absence of some of the regular players. Vaughan says the bilateral series gives England the opportunity to test the huge pool of talent available in the country.

“No Harry Brook, no Ben Stokes, no Alex Hales, some of the possible players in the main eleven. You could argue that the team still put up a good fight. For England, it is about World Cups. I have no doubt about this England team, who know what they are doing. There is so much confidence. If you give them a series against India or Australia, I have no doubt that they will arrive and play well. It is that kind of mentality engulfed in the culture. Winning big trophies,” Vaughan clarified, adding it’s a big shift in England’s mentality from his time when they would do well in the bilateral series and then nothing in the World Cups.

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Ben Stokes has been England's key figure as the all-rounder guided Three Lions to two World Cup victories and have also led them to a new era in Tests. Image Credit: AFP file

Exciting approach

England, world champions in both the whiteball formats, have also become a dominant force in Tests with the aggressive Bazball approach under skipper Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, making the longer formats more exciting by replicating the Twenty20 brand of cricket in the longest format.

“Over the last one year, England are changing the way Test is being played. No team in the history of the game has played Test cricket the way England have done. They are trying to make Test more exciting, trying to bring in more audience, trying to send a strong message to the younger fans. Trying to score five runs in an over or more, declare when you don’t expect and always going for the win,” Vaughan added.

The former skipper, known for his silken touch, made some bold suggestions to alter the formats and the international calendar to suit the modern day demands of the game.

Bold suggestions

“Test needs to be reduced in terms of time. Tests over five days in my time was fantastic. In modern day, for Test matches to survive with all the leagues around the world, so powerful and loved by new audience, Test cricket would be silly if it is not to be a four-day game. I really believe it is a four-day cricket, the way England are playing, the expansive cricket. You have to go for a win, draws don’t count. I think it should be the way Test needs to be played,” he said, fully aware of the repercussions he will face for his suggestions.

However, Vaughan bordered on courting another controversy by lending his voice to abandon all the bilateral series in the shorter formats.

“We want Test cricket to survive and Twenty20 leagues are going to be there because they bring in a lot of revenues to the game. Younger players getting all the opportunities and the experience by playing in these leagues. So I don’t think you need bilateral cricket, not even Twenty20. I would have World Cups and internationals, qualifiers like football World Cups,” he said, in order to preserve the oldest format of the game and also to keep the players healthy.

Exciting times

Vaughan is excited to impart his knowledge and experience to the budding players and says he is not worried about the way and the format a child is playing as they are playing the game.

“It doesn’t matter, which format they are playing. It is because of the T20, England are playing the way they are playing. I am hoping that this generation realises that you can play a Test match in T20 style, which is pretty much what England have done in the last one year,” he concluded.

Committed to nurturing skills

GEMS Modern Academy, in partnership with UAE-based JMR Sporting, has launched Mentors Academy, a state-of-the-art cricket academy that provides specialised coaching and mentoring to young cricketers aged 6-18 years.

Mentors Academy provides students with a structured cricket coaching programme that runs alongside regular academics through an integrated curriculum. Young cricketers enrolled in the programme will be supported by a host of cricket legends, including Paul Nixon, Vaughan, Chaminda Vaas, Nida Dar and Virender Sehwag.

Nargish Khambatta, Principal and CEO of GEMS Modern Academy and Senior Vice President — Education at GEMS Education, said: “At Modern, we are committed to nurturing the skills of aspiring cricketers to help them become the shining stars that represent the UAE and India on the global stage. We are thrilled to announce our partnership with JMR Sporting to launch Mentors Academy, a premier institution that has teamed up with legendary figures in the world of cricket, who are bringing their unparalleled expertise to the table.”

Holistic approach

Jayafar Moidu, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of JMR Sporting, said: “At Mentors Academy, we understand that talent alone is not enough to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of cricket. Our holistic approach focuses on developing the physical, mental and emotional aspects of our students, empowering them to become well-rounded individuals and successful cricketers. We provide students with the necessary tools to develop their mental strength, focus, speed, endurance, and resilience.”

Paul Nixon, a seasoned cricketer and mentor at the new academy, said: “I am thrilled to share my knowledge and experience with the young cricketers at Mentors Academy, which strives to create an exceptional environment for them to grow, flourish, and embark on a journey of self-discovery and transformation toward success in cricket and beyond.”