Captain Collingwood plots new course
Despite suffering from jet lag and the after-effects of a few too many rum punches, Paul Collingwood looked anything but a returning tourist when we met at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal.
Having collected his luggage from the carousel, Collingwood and his victorious players left the baggage reclaim area and successfully negotiated customs.
You can imagine the scene as the skipper went through. "Anything to declare, mate?" "Nothing...apart from the World Cup."
Collingwood, clutching the sparkling trophy in his right hand, then took a left turn and, along with Kevin Pietersen, strolled towards the flashing cameras and applauding fans.
"This way Colly," instructed one photographer. "Can you move your bag, KP?" asked another.
Photos over, it was out into the public area where keen fans took photos and TV crews swarmed around the England players, apart from new dad Pietersen, who made a hasty retreat to see his baby boy.
For Collingwood and team director Andy Flower, they wandered over to a nearby hotel for a joint press conference, passing a number of well-wishers who offered their congratulations.
Eyes still slightly bloodshot from celebrating in Barbados, Collingwood took time to speak with me for an ECBtv exclusive before meeting the national media.
"Knackered?" I asked. "I'm not too bad," came the surprising reply. "We had a great night out after the game and eventually got to bed.
"We will savour the moment. That's one thing in sport you have to do when you win. We all know as team-mates and players how hard it is to win things like that. Enjoy the moment but once it's gone, put it away and kick on. All the good teams have done that throughout the years.
"You look at Australia - they have been in so many World Cup finals and won so many World Cups. They always want to get better and better. That's exactly the way we will try to approach it."
The sight of an airborne Collingwood punching the sky and being pursued around Kensington Oval by his joyous team-mates is one that will live with every England supporter for many years.
The first to admit he did not have a great series with the bat, it still seemed entirely appropriate that it was Collingwood, as leader, who dragged his thoroughbred outfit into the winner's enclosure.
"Someone must be writing these scripts somewhere," he said. "To go out there and score the winning runs, it felt really sweet and certainly a moment I'll never forget.
"When we won, when all the guys came running out, I wasn't sure what to do. I started to run away from them rather than towards them, so they had to catch me.
"It has sunk in. It did straightaway. We knew what it was about, winning a World Cup for the first time. Leading into that Australia game, we knew what we could achieve and as soon as those winning runs went through midwicket you could see all the boys, the excitement of knowing we had won a World Cup was etched on everyone's face."
If Collingwood never picks up his Slazenger bat again then he can retire knowing he has a collection of honours the envy of any England cricketer.
The Durham all-rounder will return home with quite a nice dilemma - where to make room on mantelpiece for his World Twenty20 winner's medal. Sandwiched between the two he picked up for winning the Ashes last year and in 2005 perhaps?
"This is definitely up there," he said. "We discussed this with the boys straight afterwards. Doing something for the first time takes a very special effort. We've had the monkey on our back for some time that we haven't won an ICC tournament. We have won a World Cup now. The guys are absolutely ecstatic.
"To win a World Cup you have to beat the best teams. That's exactly what we did. The way we fought throughout the whole tournament, adjusted to different players, different conditions, we were on top of our game.
"Going into the final there were a few nerves but everyone relaxed once we got on the pitch and got stuck into their roles. That was one of the key things - everyone knew their roles 100%. As long as they stuck to that we wouldn't go too far wrong."
England have endured a rollercoaster 12 months in one-day cricket. Humbled at Lord's by the Netherlands in last year's competition, England beat eventual winners Pakistan and India before being eliminated by West Indies courtesy of an unfavourable Duckworth-Lewis calculation.
At the end of last summer England were thrashed 6-1 by Australia in a terrible one-day series which made it hard for any England fan to be optimistic about what lay ahead.
However, a first one-day series win in South Africa gave some hope over the winter but it was not until February's trip to Dubai that Collingwood truly believed England could be a force.
Only an outstanding display of power hitting from Abdul Razzaq denied England back-to-back victories in the UAE over Pakistan but, perversely, Collingwood pointed to a defeat earlier in that trip, a last-ball loss to England Lions, as the game that might have played a more significant part in shaping them as future World Cup winners.
That evening, in Abu Dhabi, Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb, opening for the Lions, smashed 81 and 58 not out respectively to upset the odds. As a result both players were called into the squad for the World Twenty20 and the rest is history.
"That was such a blessing in disguise that we had that game and seen what Kieswetter and Lumb could do," recalled Collingwood.
"As soon as we saw that power up top it was non-negotiable. These guys had to come in. Although they hadn't played a lot of international cricket we backed them to score the runs and do it quickly. That's what they did.
"Stuart Broad, I remember, dropped Kiesy with a bit of a skier when he was on nought I think.
"Sometimes destiny is an amazing thing. If he'd caught him would he have ever been involved in the World Cup? He dropped him, thankfully, and he went on to make a big score that day and was selected after that."