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Collingwood keeping his cool

NatWest Series
Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood is focused on the future of the England team

Paul Collingwood is determined not to get carried away by his early success as captain and admits England still have "miles to go" before they can challenge the world's best.

Victory in the fifth match of the NatWest Series at Headingley Carnegie would secure a series triumph over an India side rated as major favourites before the start of the seven-match series.

It would be a notable scalp for an side boasting only two players - Collingwood and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff - with 100 appearances at this level.

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But delighted as Collingwood has been at the development of his young side during the opening four matches, he is also aware there is plenty of room for improvement before they can begin challenging leading sides like South Africa, Sri Lanka and Australia.

"We've got miles to go," stressed Collingwood.

"We're not going to get carried away here. We've played some great cricket at times, exceptional cricket, some of the best cricket we've played as a one-day side.

"To have scored nearly 300 runs in three of the games is a massive step forward and our bowling as a unit is coming on leaps and bounds.

“We have two young guys in Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson opening the attack against a very experienced India side and they've shown a lot of maturity there.

James Anderson

James Anderson has been very successful in leading the seam attack © Getty Images

"We're moving forward but we're not there yet. There's no point us saying we've done this, that and the other, we have to keep moving forward."

England's progress under Collingwood since the flawed "back-to-basics" policy under previous captain Michael Vaughan during last winter's World Cup has been notable and included scoring more than 280 in three successive matches for their first time in their one-day history.

From the very start of the Collingwood regime there has been an emphasis on improving individually and collectively as they build towards future challenges of the ICC World Twenty20 Championships and the one-day series in Sri Lanka.

It is that desire to build on their promising start in this series which has persuaded England to set their sights on an emphatic series win.

"There is talk around about winning one more game but I think that's the wrong way to look at it," added Collingwood.

"We have three games left and we want to play our best cricket from now on and win these last three, it would be a hell of an effort to put these performances in.

Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell

England have won three of the first four games in the NatWest series so far © Getty Images

"To win three games so far has been a good achievement but we've done nothing yet. We've got one more game to win the series and I want to win the last three games.

"I said from the start that as long as we're moving forward as a team then I'm happy. You always want to win and it would mean a lot as a team moving forward to have that confidence going into the Twenty20 championships and onto Sri Lanka."

Unlike other sides around the world - notably India with their star-studded but ageing line-up - Collingwood does have the advantage of being able to plan ahead with his young side.

Providing they continue developing, the current side should be together for next year's ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan and the World Cup being held throughout Asia in four years’ time.

He admitted: "It's very exciting. We can get too carried away about it all but I don't want that to happen.

"I want the players to keep practising and working towards a big goal, which is the ICC Trophy coming up and the World Cup in four years time.

"We want to win along the way and build momentum and confidence but I don't think these guys will sit back and relax. There's a lot of ambition in that team and hopefully we can take it all the way."

Chris Tremlett

Chris Tremlett may come in to replace Andrew Flintoff on Sunday © Getty Images

England may have to make a change from the line-up which completed an emphatic win at Old Trafford on Thursday to secure a 3-1 lead in the series with Flintoff suffering worrying soreness in his left ankle so soon after returning from a third operation on it. He will be re-examined on Sunday morning.

Since returning from surgery Flintoff has played just three first class matches and a Twenty20 Cup semi-final for Lancashire and three one-day internationals for England, bowling just 55.5 competitive overs.

The biggest beneficiary of his possible absence is likely to be Hampshire seamer Chris Tremlett, who bowled impressively at Edgbaston before dropping out of the side at Old Trafford once Flintoff had recovered from a minor knee problem.

“I’ve had a look at the pitch and it looks a pretty typical Headingley pitch,” confirmed Collingwood. “It would give the big lad Tremlett a chance of playing if Fred wasn’t going to be fit because he took a good couple of wickets in the middle of the innings at Edgbaston.”

But despite having Tremlett in reserve, Flintoff’s vast experience will be missed among a young attack with Stuart Broad confirming: “He’s superb to have around the squad, very influential for young lads like me.

“Just to see how he operates, he is a world-class performer. And the way he’s bowled has been something different, hasn’t it? We are all vying for him to play.

“Every side in the world would love to have him. He’s great to come on first change because he bowls that really aggressive line and the Indians have looked unsettled by him.”

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