Collingwood demands focus against Ireland

Stand-in captain calls on England to take today's one-day match seriously
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The Independent Online

The winners of the Ashes will put their reputation on the line today against Ireland. No prizes for guessing who might be more animated by the prospect of the 50-over international at Stormont.

Six of England's squad were at The Oval on Sunday to reclaim the invaluable terracotta urn and by Tuesday lunchtime were en route to Belfast, their minds no doubt still awash with memories of playing Australia. Had the fifth Test gone its full five days their turnaround time would have been ludicrous.

Paul Collingwood, who is leading the side in today's match put it another way. He said: "It is a quick turnaround and the schedule isn't ideal in many ways. It's nice to have won in four days – it would have been very tough had it gone to five days. It would have been quite jovial to have tried to make that aeroplane in Manchester at midday but at least we had 24 hours to make the journey up there."

The players could be forgiven for wondering what was going through the fixture schedulers' minds. Only the England and Wales Cricket Board could think that it was a good idea to finish the Ashes – the regaining of which was in their mission statement above becoming No 1 side in the world – and reward the team by arranging a 50-over match against Ireland three days later. Another day, another match. So low key is it that it is not being televised.

Nonetheless, today's encounter has the status of a full one-day international. Although it might be going a bit far to describe it as Ireland's Ashes, the hosts will definitely throw a ceilidh to make England's Sunday-night celebrations look tame should they win.

Collingwood, a professional to a fault, is at least delighted to be leading England again. Determined to put behind him his poor Ashes form and equally determined to fight for a Test place which is now under threat, he sees himself as England's Twenty20 captain now. Today's 50-over match is a one-off but he will lead the team in the two T20s against Australia next week and intends to be captain in the next World T20 in the West Indies in April 2010.

"We have to focus on the job in hand, simple as that," he said. We have to get our brains switched back on to one-day and T20 cricket. We have had a quick meeting this morning and had a little bit of a runaround, got rid of a few cobwebs.

"You don't want any grey areas going into a match like this. They can be a tricky team to beat. They are well drilled and we are going to have to be on the ball. We didn't want to get beat by Holland and we would have said all the planning had been OK for that game."

When England were beaten by the Netherlands in the opening match of the World Twenty20 in June, it was humiliating of course. But to be beaten by Ireland in the same week as winning the Ashes would take the biscuit.

England team for Stormont

Possible England line-up at Belfast:

Age/ODIs

P D Collingwood (c) 33/161

R S Bopara 24/40

J L Denly 23/0

L J Wright 24/16

O A Shah 30/59

E J G Morgan 22/25

M J Prior (wkt) 27/40

S C J Broad 23/49

G P Swann 30/17

J M Anderson 27/108

R J Sidebottom 31/16

Umpires: P Baldwin & A Rauf (Pak)

Weather

Dry in morning, with rain moving in during afternoon. Max temp: 15C

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