Collingwood hungry for more
Paul Collingwood provided the inspiration the last time England were written off for a one-day tournament - and hopes a repeat can fulfil one of his remaining career ambitions.
The 6-1 NatWest Series defeat by Australia has rapidly decreased expectation levels of this current England team, but when a similar feeling surfaced at the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia in February 2007, Collingwood reeled off scores of 106, 120 not out and 70 to seal a remarkable triumph.
He has pinpointed helping England to their first piece of major one-day silverware, and their next opportunity begins tomorrow with their opening match of the Champions Trophy against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers.
“In the form we’ve been in the past few weeks it will be very hard to say we are going to come out and win it, but the amazing thing is that we can produce performances to beat anybody on our day,” he said.
“The funny thing about this team is that we have the potential to do it. It’s a tournament that’s so short you could click and that could be it. I’m never going to say never, am I?”
If Andrew Strauss’ team rip up the form book to reach the final of this eight-team competition, it would earn Collingwood his 171st one-day international appearance and make him the most capped player in England history. He is already fourth highest run-scorer and sixth on his country’s wicket-taking list at this level.
“I think I can still get another three years out of my body and mind and can still improve. I still think I can do it,” he added.
“I have to work as hard as ever on fitness - that’s crucial. The older you get the more you have to work on your fitness. It’s non-negotiable because once that goes down it’s very hard to get it back up again.
“I have a couple of things I really want to do in terms of my career. I want to win an ICC tournament, which we’ve never done, and I want to beat Australia in Australia and I intend to be there, it’s as simple as that. I will do whatever it takes to get there.
“Me being on the slide? Of course, it’s ridiculous, that’s why I’m laughing at it. I have nothing in my mindset anywhere near as negative as that idea.”
Contractual obligations to the Delhi Daredevils mean Collingwood faces Champions League action immediately upon the conclusion of this tournament.
Playing all three forms of the game for England means he rarely gets a break, hence the management’s decision to rest him for a week during the NatWest Series following concern from the medical staff.
Team director Andy Flower, for one, appreciates the qualities a fresh Collingwood provides.
He said: “What he brings to the team is a steely determination, a combative quality, he’s a fine fielder, a bowler that can do a job for us in the middle and a middle-order player who can score close to a run a ball and alternate strike easily.
“After that little break we gave him in that last one-day series he looked very sprightly at Durham in the field and it helped a lot. He needed that break there and then, there is no doubt about that.
“At the Rose Bowl he picked up a niggle in his groin. He was moving very gingerly at backward point and he needed a physical and emotional break. He had been on the road, or under pressure, for quite a long time.
“If we can manage him properly, given the scheduling, and he can ensure his form is good, then who knows how long he can go?”
In addition to countering Sri Lanka spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis in the day-night contest, England will quickly have to acclimatise to the altitude having only been in the country since Tuesday.