Confident Colly back in the runs
Paul Collingwood was relieved that familiar surroundings helped him start to do his "job" properly again for England today.
A return to the scene of his Test double-hundred brought out some of the best in the middle-order batsman, who fell just short of three figures this time but nonetheless top-scored in England’s 288 for eight declared against South Australia.
Collingwood shared a fifth-wicket stand of 131 with the increasingly impressive Ian Bell, who hit 61, on day one of the tourists’ second Ashes warm-up match at the Adelaide Oval.
It was a welcome return to form following Collingwood’s unproductive end to the English summer.
After England had finished the day wicketless in nine overs - the hosts reached 26 - he said: “I knew it was only one innings away. Thankfully it was today.
“It would have been nice to go on and get three figures, but I would have taken that at the start of the day. It’s been frustrating, because that is our job - we have to go out there and score runs.
“It’s been a while since I’ve made a big contribution, certainly in the Test match arena.”
Collingwood has joined Kevin Pietersen, Bell, captain Andrew Strauss and number eight Stuart Broad as those with a half-century at least under their belt after four days' cricket on the Ashes tour.
“I want to go into these Test matches with 100% confidence,” he added. “I have to score a few runs in these warm-up games to be able to do that.
“I was delighted with the way I started the innings today. I thought I left pretty well when I first went in, and then managed to get a few shots away.”
His previous success at the ground gave him handy self-belief at the start of his innings, Collingwood confirmed.
But he has never claimed his 206 in the second-Test defeat of England’s 2006-07 5-0 Ashes drubbing as one of his great achievements, because it will forever be associated with the team’s failure.
“When you’ve got good memories that obviously helps, with the feelgood factor before you go out,” he said. “I’ve spent a little bit of time out in the middle there, and feel a little bit at home on that wicket.”
As for that career-best score from four years ago, he is proud of having defied a group of world-class bowlers, including Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, but will always regret his effort came to nought.
“I could take confidence from playing against such a good attack and scoring runs," he said. “When you come up against an attack like that and have a bit of success from a personal point of view, it obviously does give you big confidence.
“But I’ve always said you want to have those innings in a winning cause, or maybe a draw, but not a loss - so it will never go down as one of my best.”
Back to the present - and future - and Collingwood believes England’s batsmen may be about to peak at the right time, but concedes there is still some work to be done.
Bell’s innings compared favourably with Collingwood’s own 116-ball effort, and while Alastair Cook must have been disappointed to go caught behind soon after lunch, having battled through the new ball, his 32 was a start at least.
“We’ve still got a way to go. We need these guys who get a start to go on and make a big one - I wish I’d done that myself today,” said Collingwood.
Once again, England lost an early wicket - this time captain Strauss - but they see no reason to panic about that statistic.
“It would be nice if we could get off to a better start,” he agreed. “But the guys will do it - I’ve got 100% confidence in that.”
He is sure Cook will be back in the runs soon, and is unsurprisingly impressed with Bell.
“I thought he looked in good nick today,” the Collingwood said of opener Cook. "He was moving really well; his shot selection was pretty good. It’s just a shame that he got out like that.
“I think Bell’s developed as a cricketer since the last time he was in Australia. He’s gone through some situations, especially in South Africa last year, that I would say the old Ian Bell probably wouldn’t have got through.
“He’s matured a lot, and I’m sure he’s desperate to prove to everybody how good a player he is.”
South Australia captain Michael Klinger was also impressed with Bell, Collingwood and Pietersen - and took issue with the suggestion that England found it tough going.
“When some of their batters got in, you saw some of their class,” he said. “I wouldn’t say they struggled.”