NOTTINGHAM // Paul Collingwood made his one-day comeback for England yesterday claiming he had no regrets about giving up the captaincy he believed was threatening his Test place. The Durham all-rounder returned to action in the second match of the NatWest Series at Trent Bridge for his first game since relinquishing the captaincy of the one-day side after just over a year in charge.
During his time as captain, Collingwood's form at Test level suffered dramatically and he went 25 innings between centuries - a run which was only ended during the third Test at Edgbaston after he had privately resolved to inform England he was ready to step down. His decision was overshadowed by the sudden announcement of Michael Vaughan to also step down as Test captain, but Collingwood admitted the pressures were beginning to tell on him.
"I thought it was too much of a coincidence that I scored a hundred against West Indies just before I got the captaincy last year and I scored another hundred the day after I gave it up," he said. "It was very much a relief. I spoke to my wife and said I couldn't keep going like that, because I was going to lose my Test spot and that's going to hurt the most. "It's always been the thing I've wanted most in cricket, to cement my Test spot, and I didn't want to give that away easily."
During his time as captain Collingwood also suffered the indignity of facing widespread criticism after running out Grant Elliott during a one-day match against New Zealand at The Oval after the batsman had collided with Ryan Sidebottom. He was then given a four-match ban for failing to maintain a proper over-rate, which he has now completed to prompt his return at Trent Bridge. "I'll be honest and admit the run-out situation didn't help - that's something that doesn't go away overnight," Collingwood explained.
"Even though you turn around and apologise, you've still got people questioning you and that hurt me quite a lot. "But I've grown up all my life wanting to play cricket for England and contributing to England and it was getting to the point I was going to lose my Test place - I thought something has got to give here because I can't keep going like this." He continued: "When I got the captaincy, I said I never had massive ambitions to do the job but I thought it was a great time to take a new challenge on.
"I've always just wanted to be a player, always wanted to play for England, and I still think you can be a leader in the ranks as well. I'll just go back to doing that." Collingwood replaced the Esex all-rounder Ravi Bopara from the line-up who cruised to a 20-run victory at Headingley on Friday in the opening clash of the five-match series. * PA Sport