Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Will Collingwood get his chance?

Australia will respect Paul Collingwood for his mental toughness; but saying they fear his dogged batting at Test level is simply a fallacy. Regularly included in the squad, but not the final eleven, until a year ago, Collingwood has found a niche for himself in the side as a tenacious batsman to go in between Messrs Pietersen and Flintoff. In this time, the 30-year-old has done much to shed his reputation as a one-day specialist, averaging 53 in his last 11 games.

Although an inventive accumulator in the shorter format of the game, Collingwood’s role in the Test side is to provide grit, guts and reliability; his current strike-rate is just 41. His qualities may not be particularly glamorous but Collingwood’s technique, perhaps surprisingly, has prove more than able to cope with the rigours of Test cricket so far. Games in the sub-continent and against Asian sides in England have brought several vital innings. Whether he can replicate them against the bouncing Australian ball and the guile of Shane Warne remains to be seen. For Collingwood, however, the immediate question is whether he will get the chance.

Given that England have only selected six batsmen for their main touring party, it seems unlikely Collingwood will play in the First Test. His will feel frustrated at seemingly being the ‘fall-guy’ yet again; but the selectors will remember his struggles when he batted at four in ODIs against Australia last summer and, especially, his Matthew Hoggard-esque exploits in the Fifth Test. If England are struggling, there are few better men to bring in than Collingwood; but, if things all go to plan, than he appears unlikely to feature.

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