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October 11, 2007
England's victorious one-day captain, Paul Collingwood, believes his team's series win in Sri Lanka - their first triumph on the subcontinent in 20 years - is just the beginning for a young and enthusiastic squad that is casting off its image as limited-overs also-rans.
England took an unassailable 3-1 lead in Wednesday's fourth ODI in Colombo, and have now secured back-to-back ODI triumphs, following on from their hard-fought 4-3 series win against India last month. . "A lot of good and experienced teams have come here and gone away with nothing," said Collingwood. "But this lot are a young bunch of lads who have the energy and the belief, but they've also shown they've got the skills as well.
"If we'd have lost the last two games it would have been devastating and I'm sure it would have hit the guys pretty hard, but we can go away with a smile on our faces now."
England's triumph had extra significance because it was achieved in spite of the absence of their key allrounder, Andrew Flintoff, who had to pull out on the eve of the tour with a recurrence of his ankle problems. "Freddie is a massive part of English cricket and he will be again in the future," said Collingwood. "But these lads are very young and they're still learning."
Flintoff was hardly missed with either bat or ball, as England's seam attack of James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad dominated the Sri Lankan top-order, while England's lower-order proved more durable than for many a year with the inclusion of Ravi Bopara, Graeme Swann and Broad at Nos. 7 to 9. England's next target is the ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan in September 2008, and both Collingwood and the coach, Peter Moores, believe victory is not out of the question.
"Since we've been out here there's been a lot of belief that we can do something special," said Collingwood. "There's a lot of skill in that dressing room. After the first match, when we lost heavily, we took some stick and we knew it was going to be tough. But what we've got now is a really good structure and I have to give a lot of credit to the management and the environment they have created."
"We make no bones about the fact that we want to get a one-day side to win an ICC Trophy," Moores told BBC Radio. "The key now is to keep on winning, keep trying to get up the rankings and keep gaining in confidence. We know there are areas we can get better. We've got to go away and work on them."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough