DUBAI // Andy Flower, the England coach, says the two Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan in the UAE will be crucial for Paul Collingwood to hone his captancy skills ahead of the World Twenty20. Collingwood has been captaining England regularly in T20 and was at the helm during the World Twenty20 at home last year. His opportunities to lead the side outside the shortest format of the game have, however, been limited to 25 one-day internationals across a one-year spell in 2007-08 and two games against Ireland last year.
"It is an opportunity for Paul Collingwood," said Flower. "It is a little difficult when you play as captain only occasionally. It takes some time to get up to speed. When you are captaining you are making decisions all the time, but when you are playing you aren't operating to that level. So it does take a little time to get up his speed and it is another opportunity for Paul to practice his captaincy skills.
"We also want to clarify a few things in our minds about our Twenty20 side, so these two matches will help to do it, we also needed a proper warm-up for the series in Bangladesh, so we can also see these two games as a warm-up for that series." The two matches against Pakistan, to be played at the Dubai Sports City on Friday and Saturday, will also be an opportunity for fringe players to make their claims for a spot in the England squad for the World Twenty20 in the West Indies in April-May.
"Just because we do not play that much Twenty20 cricket I would not say that our side is very settled," said Flower. "So there are places up for grabs. "We are starting to see some good performances in our 50-over cricket and so we are starting to get a little more settled. I do not want to go into specifics of selection right now, but there are a couple of places up for grabs." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org