England v India, 7th ODI, Lord's September 8, 2007

Collingwood praises new-ball attack



Paul Collingwood on Andrew Flintoff: "He's two players in one and he's a massive character to have in the dressing room as well" © Getty Images

While Kevin Pietersen was adjudged the Man of the Match for his unbeaten 71, England's captain Paul Collingwood hailed his young bowlers who set the tone from the first ball to wrap up the series win at Lord's.

"I think the new-ball combination has been pretty crucial," Collingwood said. "James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been building a good partnership there. Jimmy's first ball set the tone and from then on it was pure aggression. Andrew Flintoff helps when he can come in first change and that gives us a lot of confidence: the batsmen see off the new ball and in comes the big fella."

Worries continued about Flintoff's ankle after the match, but he came through a delayed fitness assessment ahead of the ICC World Twenty20. The temptation to use Flintoff is always there, of course, and he is always complicit in the desire to bowl.

"Freddie's [Flintoff] always willing to bowl," Collingwood said. "As a captain, you don't want to make anything worse. Today he said he was fine. Obviously, he's got a bit of soreness there. We all know he balances the side very well when he's playing. He's two players in one and he's a massive character to have in the dressing room as well".

He then multiplied from two players in the eyes of the losing captain Rahul Dravid who decided Flintoff was "half their side." When Collingwood learnt of this statement, he was quick to play such suggestions down: "We've also won without him in this series and that's an important thing."

Also of importance, as England's thoughts now turn to South Africa, is that they head there on the back of a series win. "It's always nice to win a series, you take a lot of confidence from the actual win. Our whole approach is improving all the time. We said it wasn't going to happen overnight and it didn't. But we're improving."

England will not turn into one-day world beaters overnight (and indeed they were pushed right to the last to emerge 4-3 winners) but they will have little chance to catch their breath before they're on a plane to South Africa. Collingwood is resigned to the demands of the international calendar : "The schedules are so tight but that's just the way it is" - yet he concedes that such momentum in this instance can only help. A short, sharp tournament, after all, poses less of a mentally exhaustive challenge than the two months that comprised the last world gathering.

He doesn't believe, either, that the new players coming in will affect the equilibrium of the one-day set-up. "I don't think we're away from each other too long. The squad's got some Twenty20 specialists in. We needed that kind of experience to give us an edge over the other teams. The squad we've got covers all bases and it's an exciting one as well."

Dravid also talked of the positives that India can take to South Africa, after coming back from 1-3 to take the series to the wire. "I'm pretty confident India can put up a good show there. Our resilience and intensity throughout the summer has been a really great and positive."

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo