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Collingwood answers critics with T20 win

Last updated on: May 19, 2010 13:02 IST

Collingwood has endured a series of trials by fire

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Dismissed at home as a "bits and pieces player', ridiculed by Shane Warne in Australia and vilified for his actions in a One-day match against New Zealand, Paul Collingwood has endured a series of trials by fire.

Through an admirably equable temperament, strength of character and a dedicated work ethic, he has prevailed to become a permanent member of the Test side and to emerge triumphant last Sunday as the first England captain to win a global One-day tournament.

Less than a year after they were upset by the Netherlands at Lord's in the opening match of the second Twenty20 World Cup, England defeated Australia with three overs to spare in the final of the third tournament in Barbados on Sunday.

Collingwood, who had previously contributed little with the bat but who had captained shrewdly and fielded brilliantly throughout the tournament, smashed Shane Watson for a six and a four before scoring the winning run.


Image: Paul Collingwood after winning the World T20 championship on Sunday
Photographs: Reuters
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'The epitome of the English fighting spirit'

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At a news conference on the team's return to England on Tuesday, England team director Andy Flower praised Collingwood as "the epitome of the English fighting spirit". Former England coach Duncan Fletcher said in a newspaper column that Collingwood showed why teams should be selected on personality as much as talent.

"I would like to think that I have worked all the way throughout my career to play the game that I love and all the benefits that come from the game are a real bonus," said Collingwood, his face bronzed by the Caribbean sun and showing no signs of either jeg lag or the team's post-game celebrations.

"I sincerely think that you play for the love of the game and everything else is the reward for all the hard work and the sacrifices that you make.

"What you do is to try and become better and better, that is where we have to get to. The England cricket side has to never stop improving."


Image: The English cricket team celebrates after winning the World T20 championship on Sunday

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He was criticised by Warne on receiving the MBE

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Collingwood, 33, played in only three Tests in the first four years of his international career, although he was a regular in the One-day side as a useful batsman, medium pace bowling and electric fielder at slip or backward point. The consensus view at that stage was that he lacked true Test class in either of the first two categories.

His third Test was the final match against Australia in the unforgettable 2005 series, in which Collingwood made only seven and 10 but shared a crucial partnership with Kevin Pietersen in the second innings which helped salvage the draw which secured the Ashes.

In common with his teammates he was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire), which inspired Warne's subsequent derision as Australia whitewashed England in the return Ashes series in Australia.


Image: Paul Collingwood

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No captaincy ambitions

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Collingwood slowly consolidated his place in the Test side and in the process temporarily silenced Warne with a double century in the series in Australia.

He then led the England One-day team in 2008 with unhappy results, incurring a ban for a slow over rate and widespread criticism when he refused to recall New Zealand batsman Grant Elliott when he was run out after colliding with an England player.

Back in the Test arena, he continued to make runs under pressure and after 59 Tests he has scored 10 centuries with a creditable average of 43.62.

Collingwood made it clear on Tuesday that he has no captaincy ambitions beyond the Twenty20 format, saying Andrew Strauss would return as skipper for the 50 overs version.

"A lot of the success we have had over the last few weeks will go down to a lot of the values that Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss have incorporated over the past year," he said.


Image: Andrew Strauss (left) with Paul Collingwood

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'T20 triumph is up there with last year's Ashes win'

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Those values, in which honesty and hard work are of paramount importance, enabled England to regain the Ashes last year and led to a dramatic improvement in the team's One-day form after years of under-achievement.

"Once we got past Guyana and a near slipup against Ireland, there was a lot of confidence in the dressing room," Collingwood said.

"I think we always had the skills but we were also thinking very well and the momentum was building all the time after each win and the confidence was growing.

"We stuck with that brand of cricket in pressure situations and the semi-final and final. The feeling in the dressing room doesn't get much better than that, in fact a lot of the players were saying it's up there with the Ashes win last year."


Image: Paul Collingwood (left) and England coach Andy Flower with the World T20 trophy

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