Collingwood full of early optimism

England's Twenty20 captain raring to go as South African tour gets under way

Almost all tours begin the same way. They have the freshness and optimism of the first day of spring. The players, whether they have had a week off or six months (some hope of that), are bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked, ready to resume their love affair with cricket.

Perhaps there has been the odd exception, when duffings-up have awaited in the Caribbean or Australia, but even then the tourists have generally been as excited as boy scouts going to camp. Filled with pitfalls though it is, this excursion to South Africa which begins officially today with a warm-up 50-over match against Diamond Eagles is no different. The feeling is enhanced because England sense they are starting this one-day section of the tour with a clean slate.

The Twenty20 captain, Paul Collingwood, himself sounding as though as though he could sleep with his bat after a mere three weeks' rest from the game, said as much yesterday. England have picked an audacious limited-overs squad to play audacious limited-overs cricket.

The squad of 16 present for the oddly scheduled warm-up matches, two Twenty20 matches and five ODIs against South Africa, has been picked with attack in mind. England are keen not too make too much of this in case it all goes horribly wrong against the side ranked No 1 in the world but they intend to be voracious in the field and to come out slugging with the bat.

"We have got to have a real bold approach," Collingwood said. "I am not going to go down the road of discussing the decisions the selectors have made but it's pretty much a clean slate from now on, and the management want to get the right personnel to make us a better one-day side.

"Whether that makes us more athletic in the field, whether we can hit the ball harder or whatever it is, they're going to pick the right person to be able to do that. One-day cricket is all about creating pressure and, hopefully, more athleticism in the field can give us an edge."

England's fielding has too often been pedestrian for more than 10 years and, although they now have a full-time fielding coach in Richard Halsall, there is only so much that could be achieved with the goods at his disposal. In the next few weeks it should be different and if they can be quick and precise in the field it will encourage a similar approach with the bat.

"Look around the ground," said Collingwood, "and you see the guys are faster, they can all dive well, it's part and parcel of the game now. If you can't do it you have got to be exceptional at other parts of your game."

England practised hard and long at the University Ground in Bloemfontein yesterday where conditions underfoot were slightly precarious after what was described as a tropical storm. They had some middle practice but it was still fun-filled stuff.

Collingwood, who will become England's most capped ODI cricketer when he plays in the first match of the series next week, was decidedly chipper, in keeping with both the start of tour mindset and the clean slate.

"Coming out of the Champions Trophy I was about 70 or 80 per cent physically," he said. "You never know where you are until you have had a break. It does refresh you a hell of a lot to have those three weeks at home.

"Realistically, the amount of cricket that we play now you do need something like a month, a month and a half to get the mind and the body back to where it should be. You should be going out there playing international cricket at 100 per cent. I feel great, raring to go, excited and have a big smile on my face." And yes, he had a smile on his face.

England play too much cricket because they play it all year round. Equally by the time the year is out they will have played 24 one-day internationals, three more than South Africa but some 20 fewer than overworked but still high-achieving Australia.

Jaunty they may be, these tourists, but not everything in their garden is roses. England's players have still to sign the central contracts supposed to begin at the start of October. There are said to be no insurmountable problems but unsigned they remain. There is a limit to what the happiest boy scout will do.

Probable team v Diamond Eagles

A J Strauss, J L Denly, I J L Trott, P D Collingwood, E J G Morgan, L J Wright, M J Prior, S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson, G Onions.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat