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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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