There was a
definite buzz around the Riverside on the day it was revealed that
Paul Collingwood had been called up to the One-Day International
squad for the NatWest series with Australia and Pakistan.
But no-one was
buzzing more than Collingwood himself, as a lifetime ambition had
been fulfilled - an ambition which was appearing increasingly fanciful
as one of the most talented young players in the English who failed
to reach his potential until now.
own opinion of his personal County cricket statistics are unprintable
but he's ready to put them behind him as his century-filled early
season form takes him to the brink of his first international appearance.
Asked for the
reasons behind his stunning transformation from talented also-ran
to potential household name, Collingwood points to a successful
winter playing Grade cricket in Melbourne for Richmond, where he
lined up alongside the likes of Paul Reiffel, the Australian seam
ace. "I played there for six months and won the Ryder Medal
which is awarded to the league's player of the season. A 'pom' winning
the award is quite an accolade and it gave me great confidence for
the start of the season. The wickets were very flat out there and
that helped develop my technique."
During his time
in charge at Durham, Aussie legend David Boon told Collingwood that
the game was 80 per cent mental and 20 per cent technique, and that
message has finally hit home. He continued: "Boonie did a lot
for the young lads here. When he came we were a very young county
and didn't really know much about first class cricket. We had a
lot of talented local lads but were lacking in confidence; deep
down a lot us didn't really believe we should be out there. David
changed our attitudes."
good influence of Boon, Collingwood still wasn't performing as well
as his ability demanded, even last season. "My ambitions were
to play for England but you can't average 26 in the first class
game and expect to get picked. But my time in Melbourne helped me
take a different outlook as to how I approached the game. The Aussies
set themselves high standards, the players there know that if they
fail there's somebody waiting in the wings to replace them. They
take every game very seriously and play each innings as if it was
the last - that's what I'm trying to do now."
has already had a taste of international cricket - he spent three
days as twelfth man in the test against West Indies at Old Trafford
last year. "I absolutely loved it," he recalled. "It
gave me a taste of the big stage and I wanted to be a part of it."
recruit has a healthy respect for what the England team has achieved
at Test level in recent series, picking out the passion of Gough,
the captaincy of Hussain and the batting of Thorpe as three vital
factors in the sustained winning run. "You could go all way
through and praise everybody involved with the team; they have all
done their bit to raise the standard."
Whilst not getting
carried away, Collingwood is already eyeing a place on a winter
tour. He knows his talent should have seen him being selected for
an 'A' tour in previous years but the figures just weren't there
to back him up. He said: "To go on an England tour would be
massive, it's what I've been wanting for the past five years. If
I can continue the form I've shown so far this season, I've got
a good shout."
has been the ultimate goal for Collingwood as a player but he still
has big ambitions to help the county club that has shown so much
faith in him to win a domestic competition sooner rather than later.
Promotion in the County Championship and Norwich Union leagues is
the priority for this season but Collingwood believes that one-day
cup glory may not be too far away: "We are growing in confidence
as a team and we've now made the quarter-finals of the B&H in
the last four years. I feel sure that in a couple of years' time
we can make the big step and win a competition at Lords."