Collingwood happy to be back among rank and file

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The Independent Online

Two games, two man-of-the-match awards, two victories, one hundred, one unbeaten 90, two wickets. The England captaincy is not exactly having a draining effect on Kevin Pietersen so far but that is just the word his predecessor Paul Collingwood, who will return to the side for today's second one-day international against South Africa, used to describe his own time at the helm.

"I just found the captaincy was added responsibility which was very draining," he said yesterday at Trent Bridge. "The thing was it was taking the form away in Test cricket and that was the last thing I wanted it to do." Now Collingwood is happy to focus on his footwork and fielding without having to worry about rotating bowlers and counting slips. "I'm very much looking forward to it. It's great coming back into the ranks and concentrating on your own job," he said. "Hopefully I will be scoring big runs for England."

Not one for wavering, Pietersen has few doubts that he will. "The team definitely strengthens with Colly coming back in," the captain said. "He will bat at six, bowl his medium pace and field at backward point, and he has 150 games of one-day international experience. So to have him back with the ability he has got, and that kind of experience, is an extra boost."

Although Collingwood has plenty of experience it is plenty of runs that England really want and earlier in the summer they looked out of his reach before a career-saving knock against South Africa at Edgbaston.

"It's amazing how quickly it can turn around, but it's happened like that in the past," Collingwood said. "In Australia it was that kind of scenario in 2006-2007 and it is amazing when you get that low you think, 'it can't get any worse, bugger it, let's go out there at the bowler rather than the other way around'. You get into a situation where you think every ball being bowled to you is going to get you out and mentally that is not the frame of mind to be in.

"It was probably mentally the worst spell of my career because it's just happened and it's fresh in my mind. I always remember in Australia I was really low because we went over there with high expectations and to get beat 5-0 was a real low. They rubbed our noses in it over there so that was a real tough time. But playing against New Zealand, out of the two series you would say you would expect to score more runs against them and I found it a real battle."

England will again be without the left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after failing to recover from a groin problem. Collingwood is likely to replace either Luke Wright or Ravi Bopara in the side that won by 20 runs in Leeds on Friday, which may seem harsh as they did little wrong due to lack of opportunity in the first one-dayer. But the Durham man was always set to return having served his ban for overseeing a slow over-rate in the series against New Zealand and he has been encouraged by Pietersen's first foray into captaincy.

"He's had a fantastic start," Collingwood said. "He's gone out there wanting the captaincy and already he's making really good decisions. Hopefully he will go from strength to strength, he's learning all the time. He's done a great job so far and I hope he continues with that."

South Africa are likely to be without Morne Morkel, who has a side strain, and Albie Morkel, who has a shoulder problem. However, the fast bowler Andre Nel is available after gashing his left leg in a challenge by Kallis during a football warm-up at yesterday's practice session.