'Not the best looking' but Colly is a perfect 10

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The Independent Online

If anybody was fussing about easy runs and rubbish bowling, the England batsman Paul Collingwood was not listening. With a straight face and a sincere tone he was in no doubt about the merits of his 10th Test hundred.

"This is a special century for me," he said after his 145 from 188 balls. "It is Test cricket and to get 10 centuries, it is something I thought I'd never achieve when I first started the game.

"I've not had a hundred for a little while, so I wanted to make sure I got there. I'm not going to rank it as the best or the worst or even the easiest, I think that is a little bit unfair."

But Collingwood spoke nothing but the truth when he mentioned his impressive past 12 months in Test cricket during which he has managed to convert none of his seven fifties into hundreds.

"There have been innings along the way that in my own mind have been centuries in the past year," he said. "But statistically they haven't been put down so today it was important that I got over the three figures.

"I don't want anything to be taken away from our performance and the way that we've approached the game. I think we've done some good things in the game and I think Bangladesh are improving all the time."

So they are but it is the kind of improvement that is not visible to the naked eye and would need a team of scientists working in a laboratory with powerful microscopes to be certain of its existence. Then, knowing the scientific community, there would be arguments.

"We haven't played a lot against Bangladesh in the last couple of years but they are improving and they can be an awkward team to come up against," said Collingwood, by now pressing home his point.

"What we've seen in the last two days is a very, very flat wicket, so it is easy to say they are not as good as other Test-playing nations, but they are getting better and better."

He recalled that the Divisional Stadium was where the Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie scored a Test double-hundred as nightwatchman (and never played another Test). This did not seem particularly to be a recommendation for Collingwood's own innings since Gillespie finished with a batting average of 18.

But Collingwood is one of the most pragmatic cricketers England have had. He does not concern himself with how it looks or who the opposition are or where it is taking place. He just bats and bats.

"It is a proud moment and I'm happy with that," Collingwood said. "Probably that I'm not the best-looking batsman in the middle has gone against me in the past, but my job is a run- getter not a batsman.

"Sometimes people forget that it is scoring the runs that is the most important thing and not how you get them. That is how I've always approached it. I'm 33 years old. I think I'm developing all the time as a player and I'm getting more confident. I've had a great 12 months and I want to continue with that."

Collingwood's innings contained four sixes, as many as he had struck in a hundred at Nagpur a few years ago, and he was dashing down the track in a most un-Collingwood-like manner. Nothing to do with the opposition, of course.