Bold new mantra pays for England
Paul Collingwood believes the liberated attitude encouraged throughout the World Twenty20 was vitally important in England throwing off the shackles to win their first major title.
In an exclusive interview with ECBtv upon England’s arrival at Gatwick Airport, England’s Twenty20 captain lauded the new aggression and confidence shown by his squad in the Caribbean.
After a rain-hit beginning to the tournament in Guyana, England swept aside Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and finally Australia to lift the trophy at the Kensington Oval in Barbados.
“We did a lot of planning before we actually got to the Caribbean. Some of the selections were bold, or risky,” he said. “But we knew the team had a lot of potential power.
“The major part of it was to get guys to go out there with self-belief. The mantra was ‘go out there, smash it and enjoy the ball going into the stands’.
“If you’re going out there with doubt in your mind, you could be wasting balls or getting out.
“I was so pleased with the way we adjusted to different conditions. There was a few nerves around, but everyone relaxed once we got on the pitch.”
Despite his leadership being hailed throughout the tournament, Collingwood endured a lean time with the bat, failing to surpass the 16 he made against Pakistan in the Super Eights.
However, any statistical shortcomings were quickly forgotten when the captain hit the winning runs through midwicket to beat Australia in the final.
He admits that the scale of England’s achievement, ending their status as the only major Test-playing nation never to win a limited-overs title, sunk in immediately.
“I think it did straightaway," he said. "The Twenty20 World Cup is a very short tournament. You play the games pretty much back-to-back.
“We knew what it was about leading into that Australia game and before - winning a World Cup for the first time.
“As soon as the winning runs went through midwicket - what it meant was etched on everyone’s faces as they ran towards me.
“Someone must be writing these scripts. I didn’t have a strong time with the bat myself, but to go out there and hit the winning runs is certainly a moment I’ll never forget.”
England’s patchy recent history in limited-overs cricket is well known. But Collingwood identifies the Twenty20 series in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year as a crucial point in the road.
England lost a tour game to the Lions, for whom Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb made clear their potential in the shortest form. England then went on to share a close-fought two-match rubber against Pakistan.
“I think it was when we went to Abu Dhabi that things were clear. It was starting to come together a lot then.
“We beat Pakistan easily in the first match, and lost the second after a blinder of an innings by Abdul Razzaq. But 90% of the game we controlled and we probably should have won it.
“On that trip, it was such a blessing in disguise that we had that Lions game and saw what Kieswetter and Lumb could do.”