Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 1st day January 3, 2011

Collingwood contemplates Test future

ESPNcricinfo staff

Paul Collingwood has admitted that his Test future is on the line, and recognises the need to make a big contribution in the final Test of the Ashes series at Sydney, after a troubling run of form in which he has made 11 or less in eight of his last ten Test innings.

Collingwood's last Test innings of note was his 82 in the first innings against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in July, in which he formed a matchwinning partnership with the centurion, Eoin Morgan, who is now his chief rival for a permanent berth in the middle order. In the current Ashes campaign he has made 70 runs at 14.00, with a top score of 42 at Adelaide.

"My form during this series and most recently my latest failure in the fourth Test in Melbourne means the subject of my Test future was bound to be raised sooner or later,' Collingwood was quoted as saying by the Mail on Sunday.

"I am obviously disappointed with the series I have had with the bat so far. I can't get away from the fact that scoring runs is my job in the side, so I won't hide away. I have still got a lot of fight left in me. I honestly feel as fit as I have ever been. I am enjoying Test cricket and playing for England more than I ever have done and our success, and if you are enjoying it why would you give it up?

"But on a personal level, this is a big week for me in Sydney," he added. "I am at the crossroads and what happens in the final Test may well determine what direction I go in. I am sure by the end of this Test, I will know more myself and be better able to judge what the general feeling is in terms of where I am as a Test player and the contribution I can still make to the England team in future and what is the best way forward."

Collingwood has barely missed a Test in four years since he secured a permanent spot in the middle order on the tour of India in March 2006, and he is an integral member of the limited-overs squad as well, particularly the Twenty20 team which he captained to victory in the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean in May. However, at the age of 34, and with the World Cup in the subcontinent looming as his next big challenge, the time may be nigh to step down from the longest form of the game.

"The desire within me to go out and score a hundred against Australia in Sydney, help the team to a 3-1 win and crack on is still strong," he said. "Yet, at the same time, I understand the arguments 100 per cent and I understand there are other batsmen after my spot. And the bottom line is that, at my age, if you are not scoring runs yourself you do not deserve a place in the side."

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