England need accuracy says Collingwood

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The Independent Online

England hope to hit the groove with the ball today in their bid to level the Test series against West Indies.

Paul Collingwood's third Test hundred in just six months put the tourists in a strong position, heading into the third day of the third Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

England claimed the prize wicket of Chris Gayle before the close yesterday evening, after declaring on 566 for nine.

Now they hope the variation in the pitch, caused by the football markings which run across it, can aid their bid to dismiss the hosts.

Andrew Flintoff's precision bowling in particular could yet prove crucial on what generally remains a good batting surface.

"It is difficult because, as has been seen, if you're consistently hitting that area the ball is misbehaving a little bit," said Collingwood.

"But the other parts of the pitch are playing pretty well.

"Short balls are going through pretty quickly - but the more and more you can hit those areas where the halfway line is the more you can extract inconsistent bounce.

"We hope we can home in on that tomorrow. It seems to be Freddie's [Flintoff's] length, and we all know how accurately Freddie can bowl."

Collingwood hit 113, following hundreds against South Africa at Edgbaston and India in Chennai to make it three in nine innings.

"It was important that we backed up a good day yesterday, started again and built on what we had done," said the Durham batsman, who faced a hostile greeting from Fidel Edwards following nightwatchman James Anderson's second-over dismissal.

"To get through Fidel's fast spell in the first hour this morning got us off to a great start.

"Jimmy did his job last night as nightwatchman - but for me, it was good to get in early against the hard ball and score a few runs."

Collingwood, 32, endured a poor trot last summer but has responded in emphatic manner.

"You have to adapt your game on different wickets, and obviously the wicket at Edgbaston is different to Chennai and over here," he said.

"It is nice to score hundreds at any time - facing different teams and different bowlers is very satisfying.

"Whenever you make a contribution like that, it is very pleasing."

It was also a stirring team response to the pitiful 51 all out which sent Andrew Strauss' team scuttling to an innings defeat at Sabina Park.

Only all-rounder Flintoff, of the top six, failed to register a half-century.

"When we spoke after last week it was about putting your hand up - and everyone today did," said Collingwood.

"Freddie got a stinker of a ball, and there's nothing you can do about that. But everyone has been desperate to do well.

"If we have another good day it really puts us in a strong position to win the Test match."

West Indies coach John Dyson was critical of the home attack's approach, after England were 311 for four against the second new ball.

"I was a little disappointed with the way we bowled today," he said.

"We didn't bowl as well as we could have.

"It is a matter, on a wicket like that, of being very patient and disciplined - but we fell back into an old habit of trying to be too aggressive.

"The main tricks have been caused by the soccer line."