England refocus on limited overs
With the Ashes secured in historic style for another two years England's quest for world domination now turns to the one-day game with the World Cup little over a month away. The players were put through a tough fitness session in Canberra just two days after their Ashes triumph in a clear sign they don't want to let their momentum slip.
The day after winning the Ashes in 2009 the team flew to Belfast where they held on for a one-run victory before losing the one-day series against Australia 6-1. This time they face a Prime Minister's XI in the national capital before two Twenty20s and seven ODIs. Even though conditions in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be far different to the next four weeks it's a vital period and Paul Collingwood believes motivation won't be an issue.
"We've got a few new players in who give you that extra bit of enthusiasm and spark," he said. "It's up to every single player to get their feet back on the ground, to keep that intensity up that we've been showing in practice and our preparation and hopefully transform that into our performances on the pitch.
"We've got a group of lads who are very focused. We are very happy with what we have achieved so far on this trip, but we also realise that it's not the end of the tour yet. We have a lot of things to do well before this World Cup. We knew it was going to be a huge six months for coming over here and then on to India afterwards and we are not finished yet.
That tournament is England's chance to complete the ultimate triple-whammy to go alongside their Ashes and World Twenty20 success, but the World Cup has often brought out the worst in England. However, the team's success in the Caribbean last year, when they beat Australia in the World Twenty20 final to claim their first global trophy, has instilled a belief that they can compete for the main prize as well.
There is also the small matter of not giving an inch to a struggling Australia over the next few weeks and living up to the tag of world champions. "We've won seven [Twenty20 internationals] on the trot and will set a new record if we make it eight. The guys are very focused and ambitious," said Collingwood, England's Twenty20 captain, who will also lead against the PM's XI while Andrew Strauss rests.
"It's not easy to win that many games on the trot in T20. They are another two huge games for us leading into the Twenty20 World Cup and the guys are looking forward to it. Whatever form of the game it is against Australia we are desperate to win. We've got the momentum and obviously don't want to let Australia back in."
After the Sydney Test defeat Michael Clarke admitted Australia will have to learn from England and Tim Paine, the PM XI's captain and vice-captain of the Twenty20 side, said they had also laid the benchmark in the shortest format.
"They certainly have recently," he said. "They've been playing fantastic cricket. It's also a new era for our Twenty20 side as well and we've certainly got a good side ourselves. We don't want to let them break that world record, then we want to start something similar ourselves. We'll be confident going into the T20 game, but England are the current world champions and it will be a huge game."
For Collingwood this is the beginning of being purely a limited-overs cricketer for England after retiring from Tests. In 14 months there is a chance for him to lead the defence of the Twenty20 crown in Sri Lanka, but his priority is using all his experience to help the World Cup campaign.
"It is a new phase and that's exciting. One of our main goals as a team is to win a World Cup, we haven't done it as a team and we really believe we can achieve something like that," he said. "All of our efforts over the series will be directed towards trying to win it and give us the confidence that will help us to win a World Cup."
England are likely to rest a number of their major players from the Test series who remain with the one-day squad when they take on the PM's XI. Collingwood also hinted there could be some rotation of personnel during the limited-overs matches to keep key names fresh.
"The management will, as each game goes, look at the situation and make decisions on who plays and who needs rest," he said. "Andy Flower has been very good at identifying those times in the past. Whether we need that during the series I'm not too sure, but the guys are very focused on this World Cup coming up."
Possible England team to face PM's XI Michael Lumb, Steven Davies (wk), Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood (capt), Eoin Morgan, Michael Yardy, Luke Wright, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes, Ajmal Shahzad, Steven Finn
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo