Collingwood fights to keep England focussed
So much has happened this week that England's Twenty20 against New Zealand at Old Trafford has arrived almost unnoticed. Much the same can be said for the five-match one-day series which kicks off on Sunday.
The Stanford announcement on Tuesday, which followed hot on the heels of the pre-launch of the Champions Trophy, has overshadowed the preparations, and, as Collingwood suggested, has also dominated the players' minds.
"That is the scary thing about it is that there's not anything on the [Stanford] game," he said. "It's not the World Cup. It's not the Ashes. When you grow up as a kid that is what you dream about. This is just money.
"The scary thing is Test cricket has got to live. We were all involved in that Test series [the 2005 Ashes]. Everything about it was compelling. We cannot lose Test cricket."
"What we need to look at is world cricket ... where Twenty20 is going and where Test cricket is going. We have got to get money in world cricket to get close to Twenty20. Otherwise, when you are growing up people will only want to play Twenty20 cricket. That is the scary thing.
"People will say why do I want to be on the pitch for five days and away on tour for four months when I can just go and play a one-off game for £10 million? There is no question what direction you will go in. That is why the ICC have to think. Are we going to allow Twenty20 to run away with it, or bring Test cricket up to the same level?"
Despite the huge sums offered for playing Twenty20, the imbalance in the game is highlighted by the fact that after tonight, England only have two Twenty20 matches before the Stanford showdown. The demands of the one-day series means that the squad won't even get the chance to play in the domestic competition.
For three hours' work in Antigua later this year England's players could pick up a cool £500,000 each. Tonight the rewards are not quite in that league - the winning team will get to share £7000. But, far more importantly, a good performance tonight will enhance their chances of being in the XI in November.
"It will be in the back of everybody's minds and, without a doubt, it's going to be discussed in the dressing-room," Collingwood said. "I don't think we'll approach the game any differently and I don't think people will just be looking after their own games, but we don't really know how they're going to react because this is a first for all of us. We're going into the unknown."
New Zealand, who have been criticised for lacking quality, appear much better suited to the format, and England will need to be very careful that their gazing at the riches in the distance doesn't cause them to lose sight of the job in hand.
In Brendon McCullum they possess one of the most powerful hitters in the game, as shown by his brutal 158 in the opening match of the IPL in April. On Tuesday, while the great and the good of the ECB were fawning at the feet of Allen Stanford, New Zealand warmed up by thumping 358 in a 50-over game at Worcester. McCullum thrashed 123 and Ross Taylor 75. Both would walk into the England Twenty20 side.
England (probable) 1 Luke Wright, 2 Ravi Bopara, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Paul Collingwood (capt), 5 Owais Shah, 6 Tim Ambrose (wk), 7 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann 10 Ryan Sidebottom, 11 James Anderson.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Jamie How, 3 Peter Fulton, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Daniel Flynn, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Michael Mason, 11 Jeetan Patel.