x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Stage set for Collingwood's form to return

In a 66-Test career that has seen plenty of cussedly defiant performances to save a game for England or help win it, Collingwood's drought of 50-plus scores has never stretched beyond eight innings.

Statistically, Paul Collingwood is going through his worst patch. It has been nine innings since he crossed the 50-run mark in Test cricket.

In a 66-Test career that has seen plenty of cussedly defiant performances to save a game for England or help win it, Collingwood's drought of 50-plus scores has never stretched beyond eight innings. But since the 82 in the first innings against Pakistan at Nottingham, he has a top score of 42. In the eight other innings, he has managed to reach double-figures just once.

The England dressing room, however, does not seem too worried. Said Alastair Cook: "When the going has got tough over the last 12 months, when we've been desperately trying to save a draw, Colly's the guy who you want and has been out there. When his back's against the wall, 99 per cent of the time he delivers the goods."

That particular characteristic of Collingwood has seen him emerge as one of the most-prized wickets in international cricket.

Collingwood's career has been defined by selflessness and performances like the battling century against South Africa at Edgbaston and the match-saving, last-day 74 at Cardiff that changed the direction of the last Ashes series.

The current Ashes is at a cusp as well and Collingwood will be under extreme pressure at Melbourne at the start of the fourth Test. He cherishes moments like these and, with around 90,000 expected to pack the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the occasion might well bring out the gladiator that, we all know, resides in him.

 

arizvi@thenational.ae