x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Collingwood: bring on Aamer

The England stalwart is convinced he and his fellow England batsmen can overcome any problems Pakistan's impressive attack may pose.

Paul Collingwood is convinced he and his fellow England batsmen can overcome any problems Pakistan's impressive attack may pose. Pakistan levelled their two-match Test series against Australia with a three-wicket win last week after bowling out Ricky Ponting's team for just 88 in the first innings. Mohammad Aamer, the Pakistan teenager, and his fellow seamers Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul exploited helpful first-day conditions in Leeds, England, - with Danish Kaneria providing a high-class spin option - highlighting the tourists' impressive armoury.

Aamer, a left-arm swing bowler, has already been favourably compared with Pakistani great Wasim Akram - including by the former captain himself - while Asif and Gul offer contrasting varieties of right-arm pace. Collingwood is back on Test duty for the four-match series against Pakistan - starting at Trent Bridge tomorrow - after having to miss the early-season series against Bangladesh because of a shoulder injury.

He respects the Pakistan attack but baulks at the suggestion they may already be the best in the world, hinting they have perhaps been flattered by bowling most recently in weather conducive to seam and swing. "I don't want to go overboard on 'these guys are the best thing since sliced bread' - or Wasim Akram, or this, that and the other," Collingwood said. "If we can get through those periods where it can be really tricky, I think we can get on top of them.

"I think they have got a lot of talent. But to say they're the No 1 bowling attack in the world I would say was over the mark. "They have come up in conditions recently where it's done a fair bit." Collingwood believes Pakistan still have a little way to go to earn sensible comparison with the best. "They're a good outfit. Certainly, the bowling looks very strong," he added. "They have had conditions where it has swung around quite a bit, and obviously, they come at different angles. There is a lot for us to think about there. But at the same time, we've got a lot of strengths like that ourselves with the way we swing the ball.

"I guess if they [Australia] got those same conditions on the first day [at Headingley] they would have caused a lot of problems. "Pakistan have got skill, and we're going to have to be very careful. But I still think we can handle what they're going to throw at us." Collingwood does not buy the idea either that Pakistan may start the forthcoming series with an advantage, having already been in Test action over the past two weeks while England have rested following one-day internationals against Bangladesh and Australia.

He concedes only that an unexpected victory over a powerhouse team like Australia, under new captain Salman Butt, must have helped the tourists' morale. "I guess they'll be confident from their last game. That's their only advantage," he said. "We're very used, as cricketers now, to swapping from different forms of the game so we should be ready for this first Test match." * PA