Bullish Collingwood basks in England dominance
Confidence is surging through the veins of England's cricketers both on and off the field as they sit with a 2-0 series lead over Australia. Paul Collingwood, who became his country's leading one-day runscorer during the victory at Cardiff, called for the team to "go hard" before this series started and had no qualms about spelling out where the balance of power now lay.
"We're confident every time we go out and play Australia. It's not arrogance. We are now confident we can beat anyone in one-day cricket on any given day," he said. "If you look at Australia's record over the last year or so they still have that air of invincibility, because they haven't lost many games. But we are the better side at the moment."
The side that Collingwood debuted in during the 2001 season lost all six matches in the NatWest Series against Australia and Pakistan - just one many limited-overs debacles - but this current unit are a far cry from the callow one-day teams that England have often fielded. They have now stitched together a seven-game winning streak which is their longest since 1997-98 and are on the verge of gaining revenge for last summer's 6-1 hammering against Australia which followed the Ashes.
Collingwood's new-found aggression with the bat matches England's 'no fear' approach to the one-day game which began at last year's Champions Trophy, continued through South Africa and culminated in winning the World Twenty20 in West Indies last month.
"After they hammered us last year we all thought we had to do something about it. We are a much better team now," said Collingwood. "But we want to be the best one-day side in the world and we want to win the World Cup next year - and as we stand, we are a long way down in the rankings."
Collingwood's ascent to become England's leading one-day runscorer after surpassing Alec Stewart during his 48 on Thursday is yet to fully sink in for him. He now holds England's runs and caps record having overtaken Stewart's appearance mark last year, something few would have imagined when he barely made an impression during his debut series.
"It was a huge surprise to me when they announced it on the tannoy - and I think there were quite a few Australians out there who were even more surprised than me," said Collingwood. "It put a smile on my face. To know you have scored more runs in one-day cricket than any other Englishman is a lovely feeling."
Collingwood's innings, which formed an important stand alongside Eoin Morgan as England chased down 240, was his first significant score of the season after he sat out the Bangladesh Test series as part of the squad rotation policy following the World Twenty20. He made a scratchy 11 in the opening game at The Rose Bowl and was beginning to fret over the need to make a contribution.
"I've felt a bit rusty so far this summer," he said. "I went into the match at Cardiff thinking 'I need to start playing well again, I need a bit of confidence'.
"Then they announced I'd broken Stewie's record and I thought to myself 'why do you worry so much?' Alec Stewart was a great player, and sometimes you have to pinch yourself to believe that you're playing for England - let alone overtaking someone like him.
"It's all a bit surreal at times. I was thinking 'surely not me?' I knew I had overtaken Stewie's number of appearances - but his runs? Are you kidding me?"