Strauss backs struggling Collingwood for World Cup
Paul Collingwood has been told to go away and clear his mind before he regains his place in England's one-day side, after being dropped for the opening match against Australia in Melbourne. Collingwood has been a fixture of the ODI outfit for nearly a decade and has played at two World Cups, but despite being axed he appears almost certain to add a third to his resume, according to the captain Andrew Strauss.
"It is a bit of a form thing," Strauss said. "We feel that he's been struggling with the bat for a while now. The best way for him to come back is to spend a bit of time out of the side and refresh his mind. He's obviously a very important part of our one-day setup and will be going forward to the World Cup, but he's not in great nick at the moment. It's tough on him but it would have been tough on someone else to be left out as well."
Collingwood, 34, has retired from Test cricket, ending with a miserable series personally, as he made 83 runs in the five Tests at 13.83, but still an enormously satisfying one as his team won the Ashes away from home. He remains England's Twenty20 captain but in the 50-over format, he faces a fight to win back his place, and it seems unlikely he'll be in the mix until much later in the series.
"It's a seven-match series, so there are a lot of [selection] permutations," Strauss said. "We'd like him to spend the next week or so just clearing his mind, and obviously doing some work in the nets, but primarily getting his mind clear and making sure he's very clear on how he wants to play his game.
"He's not going to change his game, he's going to play the same way. But sometimes you need a clear mind, and you don't want to be thinking too much about the dismissals you've had recently, you just want to be able to go out and see the ball and hit the ball."
The form of Kevin Pietersen could make it even tougher for Collingwood to force his way back in, although it also provides him with some inspiration. Pietersen was dropped during the one-day series against Pakistan in September but in his first match back, proved he has plenty to offer the side, in compiling a classy 78 from 75 balls in the six-wicket loss at the MCG.
"He showed his quality today," Strauss said. "He's able to clear the boundary, kept putting pressure on the opposition bowlers. He's had a bit of a fallow period in one-day cricket but he showed his class today."
Pietersen's efforts were not enough against an Australian side carried by a herculean 161 from Shane Watson, and it's the second consecutive win for the hosts after they triumphed in the second Twenty20 in Melbourne on Friday. But there is plenty of time remaining for England to turn things around.
"They're one-nil up in the series now," Strauss said, "but we're still very confident that we can win this series."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo