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Paul Collingwood believes Nasser Hussain, the former England captain, has missed the point in labelling the current squad as "soft" ahead of the tour of New Zealand. Hussain has been worried by the dip in England's Test form since they won the Ashes in 2005 and reckons the side needs to be mentally more resilient if they are to defeat Australia in next year's edition.
"We don't believe we are soft," said Collingwood ahead of England's departure to New Zealand. "We were disappointed with how we played in Sri Lanka this winter but it wasn't because we are soft. Hopefully we can go out to New Zealand and prove it."
England, after a lackluster World Cup where they failed to reach the semi-finals, have recently enjoyed series wins under Collingwood away to India and Sri Lanka in the shorter form of the game. The Test match picture, however, is less encouraging. England have won just two of their eight Test series since their Ashes triumph two years ago, a run that includes a 5-0 thrashing in Australia, a defeat at home to India last year and the 1-0 reverse in Sri Lanka.
Collingwood took heart from England's improved displays in limited-overs cricket. "We've been a dangerous side in the past but it comes down to consistency. That's what we're looking for now - to get a consistent side together and know our games, roles and go out and perform with the right approach. Hopefully we're starting to get the right formula."
England's new chief selector Geoff Miller, the former international offspinner, has made it clear he would prefer one captain to lead the country in all forms of the game rather than have duties shared between Collingwood and Test captain Michael Vaughan. "He said in an 'ideal world' and it's not an ideal world at the moment," said Collingwood. "From the start I've always said that 'Vaughany' and I have a good relationship. We realise that this can work well and as long as we are trying to take both teams and English cricket in the right direction, it can work. It's as simple as that.
"Of course I've developed, it comes down to experience. Obviously I didn't have much experience coming into the captaincy and the more you play and captain, you get better ideas of how to go about things. The last two [one-day] series have been a nice feeling but we realise we have so far to go - our real aim is to win a trophy which we haven't done before."