Philosophical Collingwood proud of England's fight
Paul Collingwood praised the character of his team after a day in which they finally got stuck into the Australians, and insisted that the attacking mindset which he and Kevin Pietersen showed in their 153-run stand for the fourth wicket was the only way that England were going to get themselves back into contention in this series.
"Today was very important," he said. "We needed a day like this as soon as we could. We needed to get that confidence back and prove to ourselves that we can beat Australia. It was about getting our heads together, and put some partnerships together.
"The batters deserve a bit of credit," he added. "We wanted to fight today because we haven't played as well as we can. It was about fighting and pride and a bit of passion, and not just talking about it but going out there and showing it. And we weren't going to stonewall it, but take the game to the Australians because that's the way we need to play."
Collingwood admitted it was a bittersweet experience for him, after he missed out on his third Test century and his first against Australia. "I got done in the flight," he admitted, after Shane Warne had him stumped for 96. "He just tossed it up and lured us down and I missed it, enough said. I'm a little disappointed but if you look from the team's point of view it was an important day for us. It was our intention to play some positive cricket and I think we did that pretty well."
It's not the first time Collingwood has succumbed to the nervous nineties. He had not yet made a Test century when, at Lahore last winter, he hooked at Shoaib Akhtar bouncer and was caught at fine leg - again for 96. "I think I get a bit excited to be honest, knowing that I'm only one shot away from a hundred, and against Australia [too]. But you live and learn by your mistakes. It's easy in hindsight to say I shouldn't have done it, but at the time it was a good idea."
Pietersen would stand by that assertion, for he is not a man who likes to hang around in the nineties either. He was unbeaten on 92 at the close after another remarkably attacking innings. "Kevin Pietersen's a guy who likes a challenge," said Collingwood, "and so that's why, when he comes up against the best players, he wants to prove himself. He's up for a fight as well. Obviously he's a world-class player and it's good to see him getting stuck in and backing his ability."
Pietersen's duel with Warne was a particularly riveting aspect of the day's play, and Collingwood had a grandstand seat as a renowned friendship spilled over into on-pitch rivalry, with Warne at one point aiming a shy at Pietersen's head as he fielded in his followthrough. "It was a good fight out there. Good proper Test cricket. You know you'll be up against it when you come to Australia, because they are not only world-class bowlers but people trying to get into each other's minds." But, he added dryly: "I'm sure the two of them will kiss and make up."
"Whatever happens tomorrow, we needed a day like this," Collingwood concluded. "Three bad days doesn't mean you're a bad team overnight. We needed the mentality of going out there and doing it. We spoke a lot before the game and we had gameplans, but obviously it didn't go the way we wanted it to go. Hopefully we'll come up with something and play better from ball one next time. We've showed we've got character and talent, and we hope to continue that tomorrow."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo