Vaughan, with an average of just 8.00 runs for the series, felt today was the day to end the speculation and stand down. No one can argue that he has been short of runs and has looked like a deer stuck in the headlights of the South African bowlers. The important question facing English cricket now is who is the best man for the job.
The poisoned chalice appears to have been handed to Kevin Pietersen. Some would argue that the responsibilty that goes with becoming captain can make or break a player. For Vaughan, who had a good four years; winning series after series, winning the Ashes, the eventual toll has been his batting. His captaincy has rarely been called in to question (save for a few dodgy selection decisions - Pattinson, anyone?). Flintoff had a good crack, but faced with a bitter and resurgent Australian team in 2006, could not provide that winning formula. With the Ashes looming over the horizon of 2009, has Michael Vaughan abandoned a job that only he could do, and beat the Australians again on home soil?
Pietersen has no record as a skipper. His vice-captaincy of the One Day side is all very well, but do we judge Harriet Harman for Gordon Brown's mistakes? The test will come, if and when he is chosen, with the final game starting at the Oval, August 7. There his selection, field placing, strategy and confidence will decide if he has what the England team needs. If the answer is in the negative, who can and will England turn to? England are lost at sea, without a skipper, sailing round in circles and with no map and compass.