Less than 48 hours after Paul Collingwood lifted his first piece of silverware as England captain his mind was turning towards the next trophy up for grabs. The team arrived in Johannesburg on Monday morning, along with India, completing the line-up for the ICC World Twenty20.
The celebrations after the victory at Lord’s will barely have calmed down - and Collingwood said the team was still ‘buzzing’ - but in the modern international game there isn’t much time to reflect. However, although the seven-match ODI series has denied England any warm-up matches for the tournament, Collingwood believes the tight schedule can benefit them.
“We played some fantastic cricket against them [India] and we come into the World Twenty20 with a lot of confidence. We have got experienced Twenty20 cricketers amongst our squad and hopefully they can give us a little bit of an edge over the other teams. We are all looking forward to it, we are buzzing, it has only been a couple of days since we won the game on Saturday and I think that quick turnaround could work in our favour.
“I think the same kind of skills are used in both forms of the game, maybe it’s just a little bit quicker. Of course it would have been great to get a couple of games in, but all the players are in good form and confident, and when you are confident you go out and play your best cricket. I think that will be a massive advantage to us.”
The English domestic game has been at the forefront of Twenty20 cricket and that is reflected in the 15-man squad with Jeremy Snape, Darren Maddy, Chris Schofield, Luke Wright and James Kirtley being named in various specialist roles. But despite a seemingly significant advantage in Twenty20 - Maddy and Snape are both in the top 10 of matches played, while no one else featuring in South Africa is on the list - Collingwood was reluctant to think of his team as likely winners.
|Andrew Flintoff is a massive player, I’ve always said he’s two players in one. Not just on the pitch, but his character off it too. He’s vital to us in the dressing room|
“I wouldn’t make us favourites, that’s the beauty about this competition,” he said. “Every team is coming here and thinking they could win it. Twenty20 cricket is like that; it only takes one innings to turn the match around or one bowling spell. But I think it is an advantage that we have been playing a lot recently. Our skills should be up to scratch, obviously we are match-fit, and that’s the edge that we need to go all the way.”
Although Collingwood said everyone was match fit, there are still huge question marks over Andrew Flintoff. He played through the pain at Lord’s, after a steroid injection, and Collingwood didn’t commit himself to how much of a role he will play in the next two weeks.
“We are just going to have to assess it as we go along. He’s desperate to play, obviously he has a little bit of soreness in the ankle so we’ll have to be sensible. But so long as he is desperate to play and it’s the right decision for the day then Freddie will be playing.”
And as Flintoff showed at Lord’s, when he claimed 3 for 45 including the scalps of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, he adds an aura to the England team. “He is a massive player, I’ve always said he’s two players in one,” added Collingwood. “Not just on the pitch, but his character off it too. He’s vital to us in the dressing room and spurs everyone on. It’s great to have him here and hopefully he’ll play a big role.”
With or without Flintoff, the team won’t be short on big-hitting power as the lower order demonstrated against India. Dimitri Mascarenhas slammed five sixes in five balls at The Oval, but most of the talk has centred around Sussex allrounder Luke Wright who made 50 off 38 balls on debut.
He was promoted to open in the deciding match and although he fell for a second-ball duck, Collingwood said Wright’s place is likely to be at the top where most of his success for Sussex stems from. “Maybe he’ll be in the top three, we’ve got to finalise our strategies but he’s obviously done very well up the top of the order and those six overs [with fielding restrictions] are going to be crucial.”
There isn’t much time for Collingwood and Peter Moores, England’s coach, to put the finishing touches to those plans and work out their best eleven. England’s opening match is against Zimbabwe, in Cape Town, on Thursday.
Source:Cricket NewsMore on:england, Paul Collingwood, Twenty20 World Cup
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