Collingwood endorses top three

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Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood is backing England's top-three batsmen to perform © Getty Images

Captain Paul Collingwood has delivered a vote of confidence to England’s top three batsmen as they attempt to find a winning formula ahead of their crucial match against South Africa in the ICC World Twenty20.

England's comprehensive seven-wicket defeat to Australia with 31 balls remaining has shaken the belief in England’s preferred top order for the World Twenty20.

England believed the pairing of Darren Maddy and Matt Prior as openers followed by the explosive strokeplay of Luke Wright would be the ideal combination to exploit the first six overs of fielding restrictions.

ICC World Twenty20 South Africa 2007

But in six innings in the tournament between them they have only scored 74 runs and registered a top score of 20 - struggles which undermined England's whole innings as they slumped to their lowest Twenty20 total of 135.

Collingwood, though, remains confident in their abilities.

“It’s only two games so far in this tournament,” Collingwood said.

“It’s early doors so I’m not going to start panicking now and I still believe in those guys at the top of the order.

"They have shown they have the ability and have proved domestically in England they can go out there and smash the ball around.

Kevin Pietersen

England could move Kevin Pietersen up the order to bat at number three © Getty Images

"We’re going to have to have a chat and look at the areas where we can improve.

"But when you back players to go out there and perform sometimes they get strength from that - they haven’t come off in the first couple of games, but they have the ability.”

England’s most likely alternative is to either promote Kevin Pietersen into the top three from number four or introduce Vikram Solanki for his first match of the competition when they meet the tournament hosts.

England will also check again on the fitness of key all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who seemed to struggle throughout yesterday’s defeat with his troublesome left ankle.

Flintoff winced with virtually every delivery but still finished with impressive figures of 1-25.

Collingwood said: “I don’t look at his face as much as people watching television, but he seemed all right - we’ll just have to keep assessing him and if he is too sore we’ll have to review that.”

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