Collingwood calls for perfect finish
Paul Collingwood has urged his team-mates not to rest on their laurels after ensuring the Ashes remain with England via an innings-and-157-run victory over fierce rivals Australia at the MCG.
With a 2-1 lead going into the final Test, England cannot lose the series, but while acknowledging the achievement of becoming the first England side since Mike Gatting’s men in 1986-87 to return from Australia with the urn, Collingwood believes it is important to start looking to future goals already.
“Seriously, it doesn’t get any better than that,” the Durham batsman told ecb.co.uk/video. “We all know how hard it is to win in Australia.
“Being involved last time, 5-0, I’m really proud of the guys. We’ve played well, we’ve played some unbelievable cricket.
“It’s a special feeling to go home knowing we’ve retained the Ashes. One thing that the great Australia sides did do in the past was rub it in - it would be great to go to Sydney now and try and win the series - I think that would be a huge step for us.”
England certainly have plenty of incentives to push for victory in the final Test of the series - they have not defeated Australia by a two-Test margin since 1985, and victory would also help Andrew Strauss’ side edge closer to the goal of becoming the number one-ranked Test side in the world.
“I think we probably start right from the beginning again,” added Collingwood.
“I think obviously you have to enjoy the moment - this is one of the biggest moments in any sport.
“We’ve been successful as a team and individuals and I think we’ll celebrate and enjoy this moment because we’ve done something special but at the same time you’ve got to put that to the side and re-start again.
“The really good teams continue and continue to progress, they don’t just sit back and say ‘well, we’ve done it now’.”
And Collingwood believes the team spirit established by captain Strauss and team director Andy Flower has been a key factor in England’s success.
“The atmosphere we’ve got in the dressing room is something very special,” he added. “The way that the guys can develop in training. The atmosphere is brilliant, we really are a close-knit side and we want to progress all the time.
“In many ways it was coming, this success, because we’ve put so much hard work into it that you deserve success when you do have a group of lads like this and put so much hard work into it.
“The guys have got a lot of skill. I think people forget how much skill it takes to bowl teams out out here in Australia on these kind of wickets.
“I’ve got a big smile on my face, I’m very happy at the moment but hopefully we can go to Sydney and finish it off.”