Friday, 15 February 2008

Captain Colly shows the way

Paul Collingwood's side have rightly been lambasted for a pair of aberrant performances in this ODI series. But it is to his great credit that he led by example in the third game, claiming three wickets and scoring a rapid 70* to put England back on the right track.

Collingwood's pride has palpably been damaged by the first two games. Under his captaincy, the impression that England do not care for one-day cricket has gradually been eroded, as anyone who witnessed the jubilant celebrations upon winning the series in Sri Lanka would conform. Apathy has been a major problem for England in this format; too often, they have been blown away in series that have followed the Tests, with the players all seemingly longing for a return home. That is no longer the case, for Collingwood has made it his mission to make England a respected one-day outfit once more.

His performance today illustrated the good cricketing sense he has come to be associated with. His bowling in this format of the game continues to improve; canny and with plenty of guile, his brand of cutters and slower balls are well-accustomed to Kiwi wickets. With the bat, he was audacious and a little lucky but superb: his 70* from only 50 balls made a nervy run chase into a cakewalk, as he ruthlessly targeted New Zealand's band of medium-pacers after seeing off the brilliant Daniel Vettori.

While they have regained some respectability, it would still represent a major surprise if England produce two more similarly impressive showings. Clearly, they need Phil Mustard to make a significant contribution at the top; breezy cameos are not enough. But, at last, their much-vaunted middle-order lived up to the hype, with Ian Bell playing a fine innings and Kevin Pietersen, though far from his best, making a timely contribution. Collingwood's combativeness evoked the tenacity and skill he displayed in the incredible CB Series win last year. After their thrashings in the first two games, a turnaround England series victory would come close to that for shock value.


Chrispy said...

Good call Tim, it was very much a reminder of the CB series. Colli is the man you want in a crisis and he showed why again. This team are capable of so much more but they need to knuckle down like their captain and play without fear.

Richard Lake said...

I wonder if this was in part him having more confidence in Wright and Masca following him rather than Bopara and Swann?

Certainly the former two give the batting much more depth and power.