Vaughan shocker

LONDON - Yesterday Graeme Smith paid tribute to outgoing England Test captain Michael Vaughan, describing his decision to step down as a "loss for world cricket".

LONDON - Yesterday Graeme Smith paid tribute to outgoing England Test captain Michael Vaughan, describing his decision to step down as a "loss for world cricket".

"It has come as a shock to me," commented Smith. "I have the highest regard for him as person, sportsman and leader. It is a great loss for world cricket."

The Proteas management also announced yesterday that fast bowler Dale Steyn's left thumb will be left in a cast for another week. He will thus not be considered for selection for Thursday's final Test match at the Oval.

He is, however, on track to take part in the limited overs segment of the England tour, consisting of a T20 international and five one-day internationals.

Vaughan's decision follows Saturday's five-wicket defeat against South Africa in the third Test at Edgbaston, which gave the Proteas an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.

It meant the 33-year-old had overseen three series losses against top-class opposition since returning from a career-threatening knee injury.

"I've made the decision to stand down as England captain," a tearful Vaughan told a press conference. "It's the hardest decision I've ever had to make but also the easiest.

"The hardest because I'm giving away the job I've loved for the last five years, one I've put my heart and soul into, but also the easiest because my mind has told me to pack it in."

Smith plundered a fighting 154 not out to lead his South Africa team to a five-wicket victory over England that clinched the Test series on Saturday.

South Africa, set 281 to win the third Test and with it the four-match series after they went 1-0 up at Headingley, reached 283 for five in fading light on day four after the pendulum had swung both ways.

Mark Boucher hit 45 in a crucial stand of 112 with his skipper.

The Proteas claimed their first series win in England since 1965, though they did not play international cricket from 1970 to 1991 because of the country's isolation. They surrendered series leads in 1994, 1998 and 2003.

England had gone six years without losing a Test series at home until India won last year and now they have lost their second at home in the last three. - Sapa-AFP

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