Only in England could we sack a World Cup winning captain just twelve months after his finest hour. But then again, has any batsman lost form as alarmingly as Paul Collingwood – pioneer of the spectacular one-handed diving catch, and the less than spectacular bottom-handed nurdle into the legside?
Just like nobody ever thinks of the families of Dr Evil’s henchmen, nobody spared a thought for poor old Colly after Stuart Broad’s eyebrow-raising appointment as England’s T20 captain. I think we all assumed that Brigadier Block, as Bob Willis likes to call him, had reached his sell by date.
However, despite retiring from Test cricket, and losing his place in the ODI team, nobody seems to have told Colly that the end was nigh. Apparently he was shocked at the decision to replace him:
“Four days ago I was upbeat … I was full of optimism about trying to regain my form and my place in the one-day side” said Collingwood “as for the longer term, I had my sights set firmly on leading our defence of the World Twenty20 in 2012”.
“When Geoff Miller told me, it was like a juggernaut had come along at full steam and completely wiped me out … just disbelief. I want to make it clear I totally support Stuart Broad as my successor … but I’m still very disappointed and hurt by what has happened.”
The Brigadier obviously didn’t realise that his head was on the block. It’s all a bit sad really. Paul Collingwood has been one of England’s greatest servants – a real team man, and in many ways a cult hero. I think we can all sympathise with the guy, and perhaps feel a little embarrassed for him.
As a result of this misunderstanding, Collingwood may now retire from all international cricket – or at least he has intimated as much. Perhaps it would be the right decision. Unfortunately, Colly is one of those batsmen who looks dreadful when he’s out of form. Nobody wants to see such a good player, and a good egg, embarrassed by the likes of Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh in the coming months. Although it’s possible that Collingwood’s career might enjoy an Indian summer, the odds are probably against it.
If Colly does indeed retire, it will be the end of an era. Collingwood is the only centrally/incrementally contracted played who was selected at a time when Australia still intimidated England. When he made his test debut in 2003, the likes of Mark Butcher, Chris Read, Gareth Batty and Richard Johnson were in the side. And when he played his first ODI in 2001, Alec Stewart was captain.
Although Butcher was a far more naturally gifted batsman than Colly, it is a testament to the Durham man that he finished with a far superior test record. Collingwood always made the most of his abilities – and if this really is end for him, I’m sure every England supporter will remember him fondly.