Collingwood opts to bow out after poor series

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The Independent Online

Paul Collingwood, the Brigadier of Block, announced his retirement from Test cricket today. During the team huddle before the fourth day's play in the fifth Test, he told his team-mates of his decision to end his career in the longer form of the game after 68 matches.

If the timing was odd, with an Ashes series still at stake, it was no real surprise. Collingwood, 34, has had a lean series with the bat, scoring only 83 runs in six innings at an average of 13. Although he has contributed well in other areas, chipping in with his cheeky medium pace and taking nine catches, some of them crucial and spectacular, he probably sensed his duty had been done.

It would be entirely fitting for such a resourceful cricketer to leave with a series victory in Australia and England set about with intent on that mission today. Matt Prior was in belligerent mood almost from the start as he and Tim Bresnan sought to take the match further from Australia's reach, taking England's lead to 250.

The wonder of Collingwood is not that he has terminated his time as a Test player after 68 matches. It might easily have been none for a player of his limited range. But he deserved all that came his way because he made the most of what he had and was utterly determined.

"Representing England at Test level has always been a dream of mine and I've been fortunate enough to have enjoyed some amazing highs throughout my Test career," he said. "I'm proud of the fact that I've always given my all for the England Test team but I feel that this is the right time to leave Test cricket, having reached some very special achievements, none more satisfying than retaining the Ashes in Australia. "I also feel now is the time to ensure some of the younger players are given an opportunity at Test level as we have a wealth of talent pushing for places in the England Test team."

Collingwood will continue as Twenty20 captain and as a member of the one-day team – but it would be no surprise if he retired from all internationals at the end of the World Cup in April, especially if England win.

It was more than two years before Collingwood reappeared in Test cricket after making his debut in Sri Lanka early in 2003. In the final Test of the 2005 Ashes at The Oval, he resisted the wiles of Shane Warne for more than an hour on the final day. Gradually, he became a fixture in the Test side and although there were regular calls for his replacement, he continually played key, rearguard innings.

He was given his Brigadier Block soubriquet for this resilient style but he found a much more aggressive method in the one-day arena. A Test batting average of 40.56 is testament to an extremely capable batsman and on the last Ashes tour he became the first England player to score a double hundred in Australia for 70 years. Last year, he was captain of England when they became Twenty20 world champions, a triumph yet to be given its due regard. Like Collingwood himself.

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