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Carefree Colly back in business

NatWest Series
Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood warms up during practice ahead of the encounter at Trent Bridge

A rejuvenated Paul Collingwood returns to the England one-day side today with a simple goal: to enjoy his cricket.

The all-rounder admitted that the pressures of captaincy and his poor form – particularly in Tests – weighed heavily on him before he stood down as limited-overs skipper last month.

The burden was such that he found his love of the game compromised, but he claims the decision to resign has allowed him to rediscover his focus.

Collingwood returns to the ranks for the second match of the NatWest Series against South Africa at Trent Bridge, having served a four-game ban for overseeing England’s slow over-rate against New Zealand earlier in the summer.

It will also be his first match in the ranks since he succeeded Michael Vaughan as leader after the 2007 World Cup.

“I'm looking forward to that,” Collingwood said. “That was part of the decision (to give up the captaincy), to just go back into the ranks and enjoy my cricket because it was getting to the point where I was going onto the cricket field and not enjoying it.

"I think people would be able to see that from the outside, playing Test cricket when I was going through that kind of spell.

"You go on the pitch and you're not enjoying it as much and I've never been that kind of character to dislike the game.

"It was starting to really get to me. I can't wait to stand at backward point, not think about where the fielders go, whether to bring a man in, who is coming on to bowl - it's going to be nice.”

Collingwood revealed the difficulty he had in handing over the one-day reins to Kevin Pietersen, but felt he had little choice if he was to rediscover his best form.

"It was a tough decision because there are a lot of parts to the job you really love and enjoy but everyone has seen my form deteriorate in the Tests,” he added.

"I've grown up from an early age just wanting to play cricket for England, wanting to play Test matches and one-dayers, and that was about to be taken away.

"I've always been good at getting away from the game in between series and during time off, and I just felt the captaincy never really allowed you to switch off and recharge the batteries."

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