Resourceful Colly reaches landmark
His first four appearances were so disappointing that in another, more successful side, he may have been forced to wait a very long time before being invited back for another go.
But this was the England team in 2001, not exactly a powerhouse of one-day international cricket, and sure enough when an experimental squad was unveiled to travel to Zimbabwe later that year Paul Collingwood of Durham found himself on the plane.
Deliverance came in the first match in Harare - a maiden wicket (thanks to a James Foster stumping) and an important innings of 36 in what was a tricky run-chase. The seed for further success was sown, and eight years on he has become the most capped player for England in one-day internationals.
Over the course of the decade, an exceptionally resourceful cricketer has emerged, one who has delighted coaches by pouring so much effort into training sessions. That hard work has frequently paid off with individual moments of brilliance at backward point, making him arguably the greatest fielder to represent England.
In the summer to end all summers, 2005, his catch to end the innings of Australia's Matthew Hayden in a match at Bristol must be considered one of the best ever.
And on Sunday, he marked his 171st appearance with another stunner to send South Africa's AB de Villiers on his way, proving again that his agility and flexibility is unrivalled in the England team.
Collingwood's batting has had predictable peaks and troughs over the years, but his bowling has developed with the times, morphing from bog-standard medium-paced seam-up to a conjurer's bag of tricks with slow cutters, faster bouncers and a bit of old-fashioned swing.
When, also in 2005, he followed up a century with a six-wicket haul in a single match against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge, the scale of the achievement was predictably tarnished due to the weakness of the opposition.
But when, with his batting form apparently at rock bottom, he retrieved a century from his the depths of his memory banks to get England into the final of the Commonwealth Bank Series in 2006-07, the accolades were well deserved.
England had lost the Ashes 5-0 and were stuck in another losing rut in the triangular series that followed. But Collingwood's ton dumped New Zealand out of the tournament and put England into the best-of-three finals against hosts Australia.
The new lease of life that Collingwood had unearthed proved infectious for England who took just two games to win the trophy, and guess who produced scores of 120 not out and 70 in the final?
After a disappointing World Cup campaign, it seemed logical for the selectors to anoint Collingwood as captain of yet another new-fangled squad in the summer of 2007.
The initial signs were good, that Collingwood's popularity within the squad allied to his experience and combative nature could pay real dividends if he was allowed to make the key decisions on the field.
His second series in charge, at home to India, was a successful one and then the team produced a real scalp by beating Sri Lanka away - amid signs that the inconsistency that had so blighted England's one-day cricket might be cast aside.
Sadly, the embers of hope quickly turned to ashes and Collingwood resigned the captaincy - in typically bashful style it was announced on the same day that Michael Vaughan gave up the Test captaincy - halfway through the 2008 summer.
At the time he was battling poor form in the Test side - his place in the five-day game has never been as secure as in the shorter formats - and the fall-out that emerged after a dubiously-claimed run-out in a tense finish against New Zealand privately hurt Collingwood deeply, far more so than he revealed publicly.
Back in the ranks, he is more indispensable now than ever before - all the more so with Andrew Flintoff out of the side.
The increase in Twenty20 internationals has given his batting a more dynamic edge, with proper hooks and pulls where once it was chiefly nurdle, nudge, nurdle and then the get-out-of-jail chip over short midwicket for four.
No wonder Delhi Daredevils were so keen to have him in their side for the Champions League in October. Injury, a scourge Collingwood has generally avoided along the way, prevented him from playing in that tournament.
Collingwood is tough to pigeonhole. Blessed with neither the physical attributes nor natural ability of England's most crowd-pleasing all-rounders like Flintoff and Ian Botham, he is still so much more than a throwback to the distant age of "bits-and-pieces" all-rounders.
He recently admitted to something that a number of observers have spotted in the past - in short, that he squeezes every ounce of attainment from the raw talent that he was born with. Nobody can say that's not a good quality to possess, even if it does fall into the category of damning with faint praise.
Now 33, Collingwood's place in the Test side, where his bowling does not really assist his claims, remains open to debate, with Kevin Pietersen's imminent return in the air.
But while he continues to leap spring-chicken like at point while producing tidy spells with the ball and reaching a whole new level with the bat - he has 512 runs at an average of 42.66 this calendar year - he is set to leave Alec Stewart's previous England record of 170 caps trailing far in his wake.