Trott and Collingwood power impressive England
England 251 for 3 (Collingwood 105*, Trott 87) beat South Africa 250 for 9 (Petersen 64, Amla 57) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Paul Collingwood and Jonathan Trott had plenty to celebrate as England's one-day series finally got underway at the second attempt in Centurion, and the pair duly set about doing so in style. England's most experienced one-day cricketer joined forces with one of the country's newest recruits to produce a brace of allround performances that smothered South Africa's ambitions on a sluggish rain-affected track, and guided their side to an improbably comprehensive seven-wicket victory with four overs to spare.
In the end it was a cakewalk - as comprehensive in its own way as South Africa's 84-run pummelling on this same ground in the second Twenty20 last week. Chasing a meagre target of 251 (which was only nine runs more than England had been set in that game in 30 fewer overs) Collingwood and Trott came together in the 12th over with England teetering a touch on 45 for 2, but thereafter they scarcely blinked. A third-wicket stand of 162 in 30 overs put the result beyond doubt long before Trott ended their alliance by flicking Charl Langveldt to deep midwicket for 87.
It was a disappointing end for Trott (and he showed his frustration by bashing his pad with his bat as he left the pitch) but, like Kevin Pietersen five years ago, his first 50-over match against his former countrymen was a triumph nonetheless. He opened the innings in place of Joe Denly and Alastair Cook, who was ruled out before the start with a back strain, and anchored the chase with an unflustered 119-ball innings. Mickey Arthur's vocal criticism of his selection was clearly not without purpose - South Africa's coach recognised him as a threat, but there was nothing that he or his bowlers could do to rattle Trott's resolve.
The main man of England's day, however, was their newly confirmed record-holder. Collingwood has now played in 171 ODIs - one more than England's stalwart of yesteryear, Alec Stewart - and rarely can he have featured so prominently in so many facets of a contest. His day began with a stunning two-handed pounce in the gully to intercept an AB de Villiers cut, and it was crowned with a drive through mid-on to bring up his fifth ODI century. But in between whiles, it was Collingwood's canny spell of medium-pace - 6-0-24-2 - that really stymied South Africa's momentum, and transformed a challenging target of 280-plus into an eminently obtainable one.
To all intents and purposes, the match was won and lost in those habitually becalmed overs in the middle of South Africa's innings. Hashim Amla - opening in place of Jacques Kallis, who has been ruled out of the series with a rib fracture - had chugged along to a serene half-century, and JP Duminy had just belted the legspinner Adil Rashid out of the attack in a premeditated assault, when Andrew Strauss opted for a double bowling-change. Collingwood's cutters were a predictable choice on this surface; Trott's medium-pacers, on the other hand, were not.
But between them they had the desired effect. Amla was instantly unsettled by the lack of pace, and having survived a tough caught-and-bowled chance from Collingwood's fifth delivery, he immediately popped a looping chance to Strauss at short cover. In their next ten overs, South Africa were limited to just one shot in anger - a bullish smack for six as Alviro Petersen advanced down the wicket - and had Strauss's butterfingers not accounted for three dropped catches of varying difficulty, Collingwood would have racked up his 100th ODI wicket, and Trott his very first.
Tactically, however, Strauss could hardly be faulted. He correctly gambled on bowling first at the toss, despite vivid memories of what Smith and the absent Loots Bosman had done to his team last week, and he was instrumental in the early extraction of Smith for 12, as he persisted with a slip to Tim Bresnan, and was rewarded with a well-channelled delivery and a simple edge into his midriff.
And Strauss's decision to turn to Trott, whose career-best 7 for 39 came in the Championship six long years ago, was a masterstroke. Aided no doubt by the fear of falling to a man about whom so much has been said on this trip, South Africa's batsmen allowed him to rumble through seven overs for 21, with just a solitary boundary coming from his final over.
When England's turn came to bat, the lessons of South Africa's were clearly visible. Trott and Strauss shared in a 28-run stand for the first wicket which came to an end when Strauss attempted to work Langeveldt into the leg-side but instead lobbed a leading edge to de Villiers at point. But it was Pietersen's dismissal that was the most instructive. In a typical attempt to raise the tempo, he aimed a slog at Albie Morkel and lost his leg stump for 4 from seven balls, whereupon Trott and Collingwood refused to allow themselves to be hurried - literally in Trott's case, as he was handed an official warning for time-wasting between deliveries.
Needing a wicket, Graeme Smith recalled Dale Steyn to the attack in a bid to force the breakthrough, but Collingwood latched onto the extra pace to bring up England's hundred with back-to-back boundaries. A minor bout of cramp then nearly did for Trott, as he was forced to scamper when called through for an ambitious second run, but South Africa's resolve was effectively broken in the 27th over, when Langeveldt overstepped, and Collingwood deposited the resulting free hit into the stands for six.
There was just time before the end for Eoin Morgan to reprise his formidable finishing skills with a classy 27 not out from 18 balls, but happily for all Englishmen in the ground, he wasn't able to deny Collingwood a richly deserved milestone, which was brought up six balls before the end. England's improbable record against South Africa has now been extended to six wins in seven completed games. If it wasn't for all the evidence to the contrary, you might suspect they were beginning to find some measure of consistency.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo