ANTIGUA // Paul Collingwood is hoping recent history will dictate England's performance in the second Test which starts today. Nursing bruised confidence following a surprise, but thoroughly comprehensive, defeat in Jamaica last weekend has left England needing to tread a familiar path to claim the Wisden Trophy.
Eleven months ago they had to overturn a first-Test defeat in New Zealand, having put in a similarly drab performance. In fact, England have become such bad starters that it is 14 series since they won the opening match. "When you win in those situations it makes it all worthwhile," said Collingwood, referring to the New Zealand tour. "You've got to go through these real lows to get to your real highs and it is amazing how these sorts of situations can bring the best out of teams.
"Hopefully this is a wake-up call for us to start winning again. "Everyone is desperate to do this, we are very confident we can bounce back. We can't just paint over the cracks and say it is hunky- dory. We have to do it." Worryingly for Andrew Strauss, the team he has inherited have a tendency to relinquish advantages. South Africa escaped from an ominous position at Lord's and then chased down a challenging score to take the Test series at Edgbaston last summer while even the excellent performance in Chennai in December was tarnished by failing to defend a score of 387.
"Our performances over the past year haven't been as good as we would have liked," conceded Collingwood. "There have been signs over the past 12 months that when we've been hit by these pressure situations, we have not been good enough. "When you get bowled out for a score like 51, it is very hard to bounce back straight away. It effects everybody. It effects people's confidence. But you have to be strong and put it to the back of your mind, almost forget about it."
Although tomorrow's contest is being held at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, a ground built for the 2007 World Cup, the teams have been unable to practise at the venue because of problems with the outfield. While work continued there yesterday, England practised at the Recreation ground, where the early morning rain made batting in the nets a bit spicy. Meanwhile, the managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, Hugh Morris, said Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison had taken permission to join a cruise ship, just hours after the innings defeat last Saturday. The pair were invited to have dinner by former England pace bowler Paul Allott and "behaved impeccably", according to Morris.
* PA Sport