Collingwood targets return to form
Paul Collingwood is hoping he can rediscover the great timing he has passed on to his new baby daughter during England's World Cup campaign.
Hannah Mae Collingwood was born five days ago, allowing her father and key batting all-rounder to fly with his England team-mates to Bangladesh for two World Cup warm-up matches.
Collingwood, still nursing the minor back injury which ruled him out of the final defeat in England’s 6-1 series loss in Australia, is without a 50 in his last 11 one-day international innings.
The 34-year-old, who retired from Test cricket at the end of the successful Ashes campaign last month, has looked significantly out of form in both formats with the bat but has continued to contribute well with his nagging medium-pace.
He was expected, like off-spinner Graeme Swann - whose first child is imminent - to be a late arrival on England’s World Cup tour.
But the ICC World Twenty20-winning captain was present and correct to take part in the squad’s first practice session today, in preparation for an opening warm-up match against Canada on Wednesday.
For that, he had his daughter and wife Vicky to thank, and he said: “It was fantastic news. On Wednesday, we had our third girl.
“Everything is 100% well, and it is perfect timing really.
“It meant I can come straight out here and get on with the preparations and get the back 100% right and adjust to the conditions.”
Whether his injury will keep him on the sidelines initially remains to be seen for an England team expected to be at full strength once the action is under way in earnest.
Before then, seamer Tim Bresnan - who also left the Australia series early because of a calf problem - and Stuart Broad, fit again after his abdominal muscle tear but laid low by a stomach bug after training today, are also on the easy list.
Collingwood reported: “I had injections into the back last week. I’m looking forward to getting back to 100% - at the minute, I’m probably a little bit off that.
“Whether I’m going to be fit for that first warm-up game, we’ll have to wait and see.”
His enforced break, he believes, will have done him no harm at all as he bids to regain his knack with the bat.
“I can’t beat around the bush - the last few months have been disappointing on my personal form,” he said.
“After the winter we had, no matter whether I was having a baby girl or what, the way I would have approached it anyway would be to spend those eight days at home switching off from cricket.
“Mentally, it was all about the birth, my wife and the daughters.
“But you kind of do refresh, even though it is eight days of doing that - and it has certainly put a smile on my face as well.
“I’m really looking forward to this tournament. It is a different set of conditions altogether out here, and I’ve played quite a lot of cricket in the sub-continent.
“I hope I can draw on that experience and I’m confident I can make some big contributions in this tournament.”
England’s campaign has been robbed, by a finger injury, of the occasionally ingenious batsmanship of Eoin Morgan.
Collingwood acknowledges the Irishman will be tough to replace, but believes England have the resources to do so adequately.
“He’s an exceptional player. But it’s up to us, all 11 who go out on the park, to make sure he’s not missed too much.
“Someone is going to have to make sure they come in and do his kind of role. One of the good things about this England side over the last two years is we’ve built up 15, 16, 17 players who can come in at any time and be ready for international cricket.”
Morgan was a mainstay in the team Collingwood led to England’s maiden International Cricket Council global trophy, in last year’s Twenty20 in the Caribbean.
That triumph, Collingwood believes, can help underpin a collective self-belief.
“It was trying to get a monkey off our back, winning that first ’World Cup’,” he said.
“It’s a different form of the game. But the guys are very confident, and the way we’ve played in certain series over the past two years - we’ve gone to some very difficult places, winning a one-day series out in South Africa - we can take a lot from those performances.
“What that ’World Cup’ showed last year was that we can also do it under pressure.”
Away from home once more, only several thousand miles east this time, Collingwood senses the time may be right for England again.
“It’s a different environment, and sometimes that can give you a bit of a spark - and I’m sure it has.
“The atmosphere you get in these kind of grounds is absolutely exceptional, and we’re very excited about it.
“Although we lost the one-day series out there [in Australia], there is still a lot of confidence there - and it is genuine confidence.
“It is definitely the right time to win [the World Cup], and we are confident we can.”