Mon, Jan 28, 2008 - Page 18 News List

Collingwood hits back after criticism by former skipper

AFP , LONDON

Paul Collingwood believes former England cricket captain Nasser Hussain has missed the point in labelling the current squad as "soft" ahead of the tour of New Zealand.

Hussain has been worried by the dip in England's Test form since they won the Ashes in 2005 and reckons the side needs to be mentally more resilient if they are to defeat Australia in next year's edition.

But England, after a lackluster World Cup where they failed to reach the semi-finals, have recently enjoyed series wins under skipper Collingwood away to India and Sri Lanka in the shorter form of the game.

The Test match picture is less encouraging.

England have won just two of their eight Test series since their Ashes triumph two years ago, a run that includes a 5-0 thrashing in Australia, a defeat at home to India last year and the 1-0 reverse in Sri Lanka during the first half of their current winter tour program.

RESPONSE

Nevertheless Durham all-rounder Collingwood, speaking ahead of the limited overs' squad departure for two Twenty20 and five one-day internationals in New Zealand responded to Hussain's criticisms.

"We don't believe we are soft," Collingwood said.

"We were disappointed with how we played in Sri Lanka this winter but it wasn't because we are soft. Hopefully we can go out to New Zealand and prove it," he said.

Meanwhile Collingwood, an outstanding fielder in the key one-day position of backward point, is taking heart from England's improved displays in the white-ball game.

CONSISTENCY

"We've been a dangerous side in the past but it comes down to consistency. That's what we're looking for now -- to get a consistent side together and know our games, roles and go out and perform with the right approach," he said. "Hopefully we're starting to get the right formula."

England's new chief selector Geoff Miller, the former Debyshire and England off-spinner, has made it clear that he would prefer one captain to lead the country in all forms of the game rather than have duties shared between Collingwood and Test leader Michael Vaughan.

"He said in an `ideal world' and it's not an ideal world at the moment," Collingwood said.

"From the start I've always said that Vaughany and I have a good relationship," he said.

"We realize that this can work well and as long as we are trying to take both teams and English cricket in the right direction, it can work. It's as simple as that," Collingwood said.

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