England news January 6, 2011

Five of the best from Collingwood


As Paul Collingwood announces his retirement from Test cricket, ESPNcricinfo picks out five of his best Test innings as he continually proved the doubters wrong

134 not out v India, Nagpur, 2005-06

This was Collingwood's first Test century and the innings that proved he'd be able to hack it at the top level. Earlier that winter he'd made 96 and 80 against Pakistan, in Lahore, but this century marshalled England to a strong total and from there they bossed the Test match. Collingwood's bottom-handed technique was suited to the subcontinent where he wasn't troubled by extra bounce and he combated India's twice spin threat of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh with aplomb. The innings also showed another of Collingwood's skills, the ability to bat with the tail. When Matthew Hoggard fell England were 267 for 8, but with Steve Harmison (39) and Monty Panesar (9) for company the final two wickets added 127 runs. Collingwood also struck four sixes, showing the swift footwork against spinners that would serve him well throughout his career.

206 v Australia, Adelaide, 2006-07

Rarely has an Ashes double century come with so many mixed emotions. As history records, England managed to lose an unloseable Test as they succumbed to Shane Warne on the final day, but early in the match it was all about a record-breaking stand between Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen. The Australians respected what Pietersen could achieve, but had been less admiring of Collingwood yet he put their bowling attack to the sword with a 392-ball innings. Again, like in India, a slow pitch suited his game and he reached his double in emphatic style when he came down the pitch to loft Michael Clarke back over his head. This would remain Collingwood's highest Test score but it proved hard for him to savour it too much after the final outcome.

135 v South Africa, Edgbaston, 2008

Even during the 2010-11 Ashes slump that brought the end of his career it wouldn't have been a surprise if Collingwood had pulled out a hundred, because he'd already played the ultimate career-saving innings. He had been dropped for the previous Test against South Africa at Headingley, but following a heavy defeat was recalled. A failure in the first innings left the likelihood of one knock to save his place and he responded with a spine-tingling 135 as he threw caution to wind. The early stage of the innings was horribly scratchy as he, literally, lived on the edge but slowly the form began to return with his trademark leg-side nudges and powerful cuts. He reached three figures in grand style as he launched Paul Harris for six and Collingwood's future was secure.

74 v Australia, Cardiff, 2009

Collingwood at his resolute best. England were gone in this match, five down and still a long way behind at lunch on the final day leaving Australia set to take a 1-0 Ashes lead. Collingwood, though, was having none of it as he resisted for nearly six hours with bloody-minded defiance. As the match went deep into the final session Collingwood withstood everything the Australians threw at him. It wasn't the great attack of the 2006-07 vintage, but Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus had been a handful while Nathan Hauritz out-bowled Graeme Swann. However, there was a final twist when Collingwood fended to gully with England still behind by six and he could barely watch as England's last pair, James Anderson and Monty Panesar, were left with 11 overs to survive. Would it be another Adelaide for Collingwood? Not this time, as the tailenders pulled off a great escape and it would prove that Collingwood had laid the base for a series victory.

40 v South Africa, Cape Town, 2009-10

After Cardiff there was Cape Town. And this was an even better rearguard because of the quality in the South Africa attack. England were 153 for 4 when Collingwood entered on the final day, not a chance of chasing down 466, and soon lost their fifth wicket as the hosts scented a kill. Then followed a 57-over stand between Collingwood and Ian Bell which gave England the chance of survival. Collingwood had to survive one of the finest spells of pace bowling in recent times from Dale Steyn, as regular 90mph leg cutters jagged past the outside edge, but each time Collingwood just refocused and faced the next ball. Ultimately, Bell - and Graham Onions, the final-over hero - took the major plaudits for the rescue act but without Collingwood it wouldn't have been possible.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • joel on January 9, 2011, 10:11 GMT

    I presume all those who have made derogatory comments. have never considered the consequences of an Ashes defeat and a loss in SA, probable 3-1, that would've occured without Collingwood. His 74 was the most selfless, grittiest and greatest innings I have seen in modern times, having seen most. The ability to fight for your team and country without thought for personal gain, as the way he batted made a hundred impossible, is unmatched in the current era. Most batsmen would've looked for quick runs and to enjoy themselves in a losing cause, luckily for England Collingwood is neither like most players, nor like most people. His innings against SA showed a desire to play for England that I have not seen matched. Every success England have in the future can be linked back to Collingwood and the example he has set through his professionalism and hard work. In a team of underachievers, like Bell and Pietersen, Collingwood is both an overachiever and catalyst for future England success.

  • Ed on January 7, 2011, 12:52 GMT

    It says it all about Collingwood that none of his 5 best moments were actually test victories, one of them was one of England's worst Test Defeats (if not THE worst one in living memory) at Adeleide, and one was a demoralising disaster at Edgbaston that led to Vaughan resigning.....

    A gritting, hard working player who was an amazing fielder will be his legacy....

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    Paul Collingwood was Muttiah Muralitharan's 709th victim. His name is written in golden letters in the record books.

  • Dummy4 on January 6, 2011, 21:32 GMT

    The England team management put a lot of pressure on him by taking him continue to the best eleven when he is out of form. It could have been better if he got a rest between the third and final tests,even changing his batting order might effective, he was in a position that either perform or leave the job. It is not an ideal situation for a talented player like Collingwood.

  • Allan on January 6, 2011, 20:06 GMT

    Collingwood was a decent player and fair play for celebrating his career but he isnt gonna be remembered as a great player.

    And those saying he is the best fielder now/ever, he isnt. He is a very good fielder and has taken some great catches but has also dropped a fair amount of medium difficulty catches. And he doesnt have a great arm. - AB is easily the best fielder now (probably ever)

  • Dummy4 on January 6, 2011, 16:44 GMT

    In 67 tests he managed 4200 runs at an average of 40. The way some people are posting would suggest he had an average of 20. His bowling was occasionally useful and his fielding was amongst the very best. So to suggest that somehow he was in team because he was a nice bloke who tried hard is total rubbish. He made the most of the talent he had and plenty of teams would die for a player of Collingwood's ability, the current Aussie side included.

  • Vishal on January 6, 2011, 16:28 GMT

    Colly was a True Fighter....His Career-Saving 135 v/s RSA @ Edbagston is an perfect inspiration to rise from Adversity!

  • Dave on January 6, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    I remember the way he got to that hundred at Edgbaston in 2008. KP was on 94 when he tried to bring up his 100 with a glory shot over the top from Paul Harris and was caught. Then Colly showed him how to do it properly when he reached 94! Very much a case of the shot for the occasion, which he generally didn't do. And from a man who is not rated as classy.

  • hasan on January 6, 2011, 16:11 GMT

    A cricketer that will never be forgotten, (Oh my bad, I thought he is retiring from International Cricket)

  • James on January 6, 2011, 14:41 GMT

    Average player, workmanlike at best, his best facet was his fielding. Peripheral players excluded from selection would have probably performed better in his position had they been given the chance. Don't understand this glorification at all, 5 best knocks indeed - what next, Kevin Peitersen's 5 best bowling performances?

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