Collingwood to support captain Cook

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The Independent Online

Alastair Cook will begin his first full day as England captain today with the ever dependable Paul Collingwood as his right-hand man.

Collingwood passed the leadership baton to Cook as the team arrived in Bangladesh yesterday having overseen a drawn Twenty20 series against world champions Pakistan in Dubai.



But the 33-year-old's duties are not over yet after he was kept on as vice-captain for the duration of the five-week trip.



Collingwood emerged as the chosen candidate to assist Cook over the course of three ODIs and two Tests against the Tigers, though the more headline-grabbing option of Kevin Pietersen was not discounted by team director Andy Flower.



With Cook long since appointed as the resting Andrew Strauss' stand-in, attention has been diverted to the role of second in command, with senior men Collingwood and Pietersen the obvious choices.



Both have had recent experience of skippering the national side. Collingwood resigned the post of one-day captain in 2008 having found the role too draining, while Pietersen had a brief but tempestuous tenure that cost both him and former coach Peter Moores their jobs last January.



That Pietersen was openly in the running suggests he may one day get a second chance to lead his adopted country. Indeed, the fact that Collingwood has no future designs on the captaincy may have been what persuaded Flower to appoint him as he bids to make Strauss' reintegration as smooth as possible this summer.



"Paul Collingwood will be vice-captain for the Bangladesh tour, in both forms of the game," Flower said.



"England sides in the past haven't bothered nominating a vice-captain, but we'd like him to do it on this tour for both one-dayers and the Tests, though he'll only get the nod if Cook gets injured.



"I discussed it briefly with Alastair, and with the selectors and (managing director) Hugh Morris.



"The last time Colly captained one-dayers, it took a lot out of him and he doesn't want to put his name forward in a medium to long-term capacity for the captaincy. He knows this would only be a stop-gap measure.



"He did a good job in the Twenty20s and if someone gets injured he's quite happy to step into the breach."



Asked how close he had come to welcoming Pietersen back into a formal leadership role, the Zimbabwean coach answered: "We had to consider all options as possible leadership candidates, and Kevin was one of them.



"He was up for consideration like everyone else in the squad, but in the end it was a simple cricketing decision."



Despite opting for Collingwood, Flower suggested he would still be looking for Pietersen to play a supportive role to Cook over the next few weeks.



"I think both Colly and KP will help him," said Flower.



"But most important for Alastair is that he is quite clear in his own head how he wants to lead the side and how he will deal with the eternal challenge for cricket captains: leading a team while also making sure that your own game is in order."



Cook's side play a one-day warm-up match against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI in Dhaka tomorrow.



Craig Kieswetter could be handed a chance to impress in that game having been promoted from the England Lions just before the senior squad flew from Dubai, while Ajmal Shahzad could continue in the side if Ryan Sidebottom continues to struggle with a thigh niggle.



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