SYDNEY // Paul Collingwood, by his own admission, is the not the most fluent batsman but the timing of his decision to exit the Test arena has been immaculate.
The batsman this morning appeared for the final time in his international whites after announcing he is retiring from Test cricket.
The right-hander will leave with 4,259 runs from 68 Test matches at an average of 40 and now three Ashes victories on his CV.
"In many ways it's a sad moment but I honestly think it's the right time," Collingwood said.
"This is what I have been playing cricket for - it's to be in a position against Australia in Australia like this, and it's going to be the perfect moment to bow out of Test cricket.
"To be involved with a great England team like it is at the moment with some special players and special characters, it's a very proud place to be."
Collingwood has struggled in the current Ashes series, scoring only 83 runs yet, ironically, his most productive series against Australia came in a losing cause when he scored a career high 206 at Adelaide in 2006.
"Obviously my form hasn't helped," he said.
"I am very realistic and at the same time there are some great young players coming through, but if I wanted to progress and if I wanted to stay in the England team I was going to have to work very hard on technical things and whether I've got the time and the ability to stay up with this team I am not too sure."
Matt Prior, the wicketkeeper, praised Collingwood's contribution to the team, saying it was as much his behind-the-scenes influence with the team as his solid batting and fielding that had helped lift the self belief and harmony in the England squad.
Collingwood, who guided England to the Twenty20 World Cup title last year, said the way the England squad had developed a culture of winning in recent seasons had been the highlight of his time in international cricket.
"I am happy with the contributions I've made to the England team in the Test format and there are a lot of youngsters coming through," he said.
"This team will progress without me and get better, so I am looking forward to [today] as my final farewell."
Collingwood has scored 10 centuries and also taken 17 wickets in Test cricket. He has played 189 limited-overs internationals.
* With agency