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Resourceful Colly reaches landmark

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Oliver Brett | 08:44 UK time, Sunday, 22 November 2009

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.

Paul Collingwood at a recent training session in South Africa

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.

Paul Collingwood after dismissing Australia's Andrew Symonds in 2005

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.


  • Comment number 1.

    very under-rated player and a worthy member of the England side

  • Comment number 2.

    Very overrated player who never plays for his county and has had more dire performances than any other player. Sorry he is so overrated its a crime.

  • Comment number 3.

    Probably one of the most likeable English cricketers there's been in recent times. Dependable, his innings against Australia in the first Ashes test was probably the most important English performance of the series. His fielding is second to none and his bowling is surprisingly effective

  • Comment number 4.


    not quite sure what the comment "who never plays for his county" is trying to achieve. You may not be aware, but unlike in football and rugby the top England players rarely get clearance to play domestic cricket. I'll forgive your ignorance!

  • Comment number 5.

    "The umpires said 'are you upholding the appeal?'. In hindsight maybe I made the wrong decision," Collingwood said.

    "I had to make a split-second decision and probably made the wrong one so my apologies go out to New Zealand."

    'probably made the wrong one?' Why probably? Couldn't he just admit that he made a serious error? Maybe he was sorry his team couldn't win even after cheating!

  • Comment number 6.

    john..12:11 - you look abit silly now colly is currently on 82 not out in south africa, or is that innings over-rated?

  • Comment number 7.

    hmmm even sillier now he's got a match winning century

  • Comment number 8.

    john, Collingwood has just made a match winning 105 not out to become England's 2nd highest ODI run scorer. He also happens to have taken 99 ODI wickets, including the best figures in England's ODI history. Overrated?

  • Comment number 9.

    If Flintoff starts playing again, and Broad and Swann come back, we could have the makings of a great ODI side:


    Top class batting line-up going all the way down to number 10! 3 top class pace bowlers, with two other good all-rounders and a tight spinner! Just replace Strauss with Denly for the 20/20's.

  • Comment number 10.

    "...the distant age of "bits-and-pieces" all-rounders..."

    What about Wright, Bresnan and Rashid?

  • Comment number 11.

    He may not be everybody's favourite cup of tea but Colly does give 110% effort in every game he plays for England and Durham and you can't fault him for that - very pleased that he had put in a terrific Man of the Match performance today.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not bits and pieces all-rounders, world beaters! Collingwood, Trott, Wright, Rashid... with Broad and Swann to come... add Prior and you've got seven. Pity about Rashid's bowling though...

  • Comment number 13.

    It is good to see some new players getting a reasonable run in the side - Trott, Morgan, Wright, Bresnan, Rashid. So far the first two look very comfortable; Bresnan seems to be finding a niche, while Rashid looks out of his depth and needs more time. Wright also seems to have settled down, and perhaps the emergence of Morgan has taken the spotlight away from him, to his benefit. Mahmood simply looks too expensove at this level, and doesn't look likely to compete for a place once Broad and Flintoff become available. What is especially satisfying is to see the team less reliant on Pietersen - interesting to see how he handles this (a bag-ful of runs, I hope). Important to remember he is recovering from a nasty injury and may need some months to get back near his best.

  • Comment number 14.

    Good on ya Colly,you single handidly gave the South Africans a good going over in their own back yard,

  • Comment number 15.

    When Paul Collingwood is bad, he is terrible. When good, he is excellent.

    At present, 'Chameleon Collie' is experiencing an excellent phase for England. How long this period will last, who knows, but what is certain, the Durham all-rounder will lose confidence and go through another 'in the doldrums' patch. The English selectors must be more ruthless next time and send him back to country cricket far quicker, to help him rediscover his confidence once more.

    There cannot be many English players who have experienced more ups and downs than zebedee. Great to see you on the up Collie. You were superb today.

  • Comment number 16.

    9. Not a bad little team that, but the next World Cup is in the subcontient so I feel the Wright spot might need to go to another spinner in time, whether Tredwell or Rashid.

    10. & 12. It's up to you how you label Wright, Rashid etc... Certainly these players are used more scientifically nowadays. Defining "roles" is key, apparently.

    15. Yup, fair point - though practically all players go through bad trots. I don't think Colly is at the stage in his career when he can simply be "sent back to county cricket" to improve, and besides every time that looks to be on the cards he tends to bounce back with a big showing in a last-chance-saloon England appearance. It'll be interesting to see if he keeps Bell out of the Test side. Obviously a couple more big innings in the last three matches will help.

  • Comment number 17.

    2. 'overrated' player? you must be joking?! Every time a commentator praises a good performance by colly it is followed with 'despite his limited ability' or something similar. Sure his batting isnt pretty to watch at times but his average is better than Vaughan, Hussain, Trescothick etc and he remains one of the worlds best fielders. He is a brilliant example to all and works harder at his game than any of the other England players. Well done today colly keep defying all of those critics!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Congrats, England! It was a convincing win!

  • Comment number 19.

    As for Mahmood, (oh, please) the selectors have flatuated the joint, big time! This dude is not international caliber, by any measure, except what they (the selectors) think!

  • Comment number 20.

    "Blessed with neither the physical attributes..." ? He's a handsome chap!

    Good going, Colly and England.

  • Comment number 21.

    Collingwood is one of my favourite players. The guy has bottle, something we haven't seen much of in many England players. If Ian Bell had half of Collie's mental strength, Bell would be averaging mid 50's for England.

    Much is made of his peaks and troughs. One thing that is very easy to overlook is the amount of cricket he has played. How many England players play in all three formats? Go further from there: how many England players play in all three formats as regularly as he does? Add in the points in his career when he has been captain and it's easy to see that he doesn't shirk responsibility. It's been pretty obvious that he has played for England at times when he is mentally exhausted. Seeing Michael Hussey over the last 18 months has been similar and he is another like Collingwood who played all three formats of the game and wore himself out. I don't think Collie's technique is that bad. He's very much a player who relies on his eye rather than an impeccable technique, and the flaws creep in when mental fatigue affect that hand-eye co-ordination.

    I don't think Bell will be ahead of Collingwood in the Test series. Cook's injury gives us a chance to see Trott up the top of the order, and I suspect his showing today and throughout the tour so far means he will bat at 3. Pietersen will slot in at 4, leaving Collie and Prior to form what I think is a very useful duo at 5 and 6.

  • Comment number 22.

    Whenever I hear people questioning Colly, I always think - who would do best for England in a crisis?
    I was in Napier, New Zealand, for the third Test in March 2008 when a number of England batsmen had reason to be concerned for their places. On the first morning, Vaughan, Strauss and Cook all fell cheaply to leave England 4-3, and Bell fell soon after at 36-4.
    KP got the headlines that day for hitting 129 (when he wasn't feeling well either), but Colly came in at 36-4 to join him, and he scored the most gritty, invaluable 30 (off 82 balls) I've ever seen. (This was the same match where Strauss saved his career with 177 in the second innings)
    Who (of the current England batsmen) would you want at the crease if you're four or five down and really under the cosh? I'd take Colly every time.

  • Comment number 23.

    Thank you South Africa! The English Team, all of course South African, show up the very inadequacies, that the English hide from.This is a pointless series of S.A.against S.A .Can some one explain the point of this exercise?

  • Comment number 24.

    I know the statistics say Collingwood has been a fair performer but I'm sorry but I do not rate him. He has had moments of greatness but has too often been through some dreadful form slumps. In other countries he wouldnt have got away with it for so long. Collingwood reminds me of my old broken clock.........twice a day it gets the time right!!

  • Comment number 25.

    24. (are you the same john as no. 2?) Strauss said afterwards: "If you look at what Colly's done, he's put in most of his best performances when our backs have been to the walls. Opponents fear him." In other words, the stats perhaps don't do justice - and in any case compare his batting average in ODIs to Shah, Bopara, Prior etc... Significantly better than them, and you've got his bowling and catching to boot. This clock's still ticking...

  • Comment number 26.

    TeaTimeAtHarrods. Can you explain the point of your post?

  • Comment number 27.

    As for Mahmood, (oh, please) the selectors have flatuated the joint, big time! This dude is not international caliber, by any measure, except what they (the selectors) think!

    I don't think he's inernational class either but to be fair to the selectors they had to try. England desperately needs a fast bowling option and he was the best available at the time so ti was worth giving him a run out.

  • Comment number 28.

    No Oliver im not the same John.

    Maybe I am being a little harsh. He has played some great innings for England and maybe my judgement of MR C is tarnished by my long held opinion that he is an underacheiver. (ive been using the clock gag for years)!! For instance - I was at Adelaide when he made 206 (A truly fantastic knock) but all that lives in the memory is day 5. In the same series at Brisbane he wandered aimlessly down the pitch and gave it away much to my disgust!! I may have conveniently forgot he had 96 at the time!

    If my county cricket hero S.G Law had been dismissed the same way I
    would have forgotton the dismissel by the time the bails came off!!

    I hope Mr Collingwood continues to make my opinions look hollow.

  • Comment number 29.

    john K - I was at the Gabba when he fell to Warney on 96. Just overcome by the situation, and it's such an off-putting place for opposition sides. But it was just conceivable that he and Pietersen could have saved the match I suppose, if they had been unbeaten overnight on the fourth day.

  • Comment number 30.

    I can't see how anyone can point to Collingwood being an underachiever. The limitations of his technique are bolstered by strength of mind. His fielding is still second to none in England colours. The surprise has been his bowling in recent times. There was a period where he seemed reluctant to bowl and had a few injury issues lurking over him. Now he's close to being a legitimate first change option in ODI cricket.

  • Comment number 31.

    I find Collingwood a fantastic player. No, indeed, not because he is the most fluent batsman, or the most intimidating bowler. And not even because of his awesome fielding.
    He is not (or at least doesn't appear to be) the most naturally talented cricketer. But he manages to perform in one of the three disciplines most of the times. It doesn't tend to happen too often in one and the same match (yesterday being an obvious exception to prove the rule). I've lost track of the number of times he's dug in with the bat to save England's innings, or taken a crucial catch to force a breakthrough. If England is in trouble in a match or in a series, there simply isn't another player I would rather have in my team. (and that goes for all formats!)

    You've been sterling so far, Colly! Keep it up!

  • Comment number 32.

    Well done Colly. Without a doubt one of the most underrated players to have played for England. A good record in all formats and fully deserving of his place in both the Test and ODI sides.

    As for the Test side, Colly will bat at five. Bell only gets in unless we go for six batters, although he could of course open in place of Cook.

  • Comment number 33.

    One thing with Collingwood is that his success didn't coincide with England being anywhere at their strongest in the batting department. I consider the England side that went to South Africa in 2004-05 to be our best batting side as you had several players close to their peak. Strauss, Trescothick, Vaughan, and Flintoff were all performing at a high level in that top six, and Thorpe continued to demonstrate his class.

    Now compare that line up to some of the sides Collingwood has played in post-2005 Ashes. Strauss went through a colossal drop in form. Trescothick left international cricket. Thorpe retired before the Ashes. Vaughan suffered many injuries and never fully reached the level he had been at. Flintoff has injuries and a downturn in runs. Bell and Cook have been inconsistent. It's not just batting. The loss of senior players such as Giles affected the side. The change from Fletcher to Moores to Flower affected the side. A stream of captaincy changes affected the side. The one real constant in all of these changes has been Collingwood in the team. I have a feeling he's been the guy to accept a lot of leadership responsibility at a times when leaders, be they captains or coaches, have been at loggerheads with others connected with England. Collingwood's success has come over a time when England haven't been a strong unit on the pitch or in the dressing room. Most people accept that it's easier to come into a winning side and be successful. To be successful in a side beset by injuries and internal politics is even more impressive.

  • Comment number 34.

    what we need is Harmison's natural ability with Collingwood's mental strength and we would have the ultimate player - Stepaul Harmingwood!

  • Comment number 35.

    34 Martin

    I do not think this Collingwood / Harmison hybrid would work I'm afraid. The Wear Tyne mix is even more incompatable then oil and water. ;-)

    Unless GBH were to repent the darkside and start following Premiership football.

  • Comment number 36.

    Colly a great one day player and has got us out of some scrapes in the tests as well. Check his stats on cric info and you will see how often he makes runs when the chips are down in losing cuases, then check Bells stats...

    That said if we play five batsmen (the preference I would think) you can't fit Colly in with KP and Trott, so we need a number three. Options Bell and drop one of the others or promote one of them. It seems like batting at three and opening is giving Trott an edge here, Tests are different to the shorter versions of the game. It might be harsh on Trott for his second test and not sure how much he has opened or batted at three for his county, but with his relaxed nature (comes accross that way) I think he is in with making a decent go of it.

    I two saw Collys 96 at the Gabba and have a photo of his six with the ball just coming off the bat, I also took one when he attempted the trick again and was stumped, ball about to enter Gillys gloves on the second photo. Colly and I were both suckered in by Warne.

  • Comment number 37.

    Paul Collingwood is a bit of an idol of mine .I ve followed virtually every appearance and agree with much said about him here .Hes a bit antsy with the new ball and he has a very gettable wicket early on in his innings.Also hes no captain ; more a trusted lieutenant .He reads the game well but he is better at advising than ordering.
    It seems to me he annoys the hell out of the naturally talented quality sides because they can see all these flaws but cant consistently exploit em.Shane Warne ,God bless him,still hasnt quite got over it !

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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