Collingwood exit gives England test dilemma

January 6, 2011

CRICKET-ASHES/The retirement of Paul Collingwood from England’s test team was beautifully timed, leaving the selectors with the dilemma of who to replace the versatile batsman but with a long time to contemplate the decision and from a pretty lofty perch.

The 34-year-old brought options with the ball and was arguably the team’s best fielder, so although he has struggled with the bat of late whoever steps into the team has some big boots to fill.

The contenders? Batsman Eoin Morgan will fancy his chances, but all rounder Tim Bresnan must be in with a shout on the back of some fine performances in the last two Ashes tests.

Also in the frame are batsmen Ravi Bopara and youthful all-rounder Adil Rashid.

The addition of an all-rounder would bring balance to the side once batsman Ian Bell and wicketkeeper Matt Prior move up a place each in the order. That would leave a tail comprising Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Chris Tremlett and then the eventual Collingwood replacement.

The counter-argument is that it would put too much pressure on the top six batsmen to score runs, and therefore an out and out batsman should slot in at number six or seven depending on Prior.

After all, while not a prolific run getter, Collingwood was resolute and stubborn at the crease and until recently was a difficult opponent to dismiss.

The number six/seven spot would be ready made for the canny batting of Morgan, and while England would then lose some bowling they have number three batsman Jonathan Trott and his medium paced Collingwood-esque seamers to call on.

Whatever they choose the dilemma is a good one, in a team falling nicely into place. Collingwood’s timely and dignified departure, which avoided the awkwardness of his being dropped or shunned by the selectors, is testament to that.

PHOTO: England’s Paul Collingwood walks from the field after being dismissed by Australia’s Michael Beer during the fifth Ashes cricket test at the Sydney Cricket Ground January 5, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

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