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Last Updated: Friday, 9 February 2007, 11:44 GMT
England hero delighted with form
Paul Collingwood reaches his century
Collingwood celebrates after reaching his century
England hero Paul Collingwood reflected on the vagaries of batting form after a second successive century saw them to victory over Australia in Melbourne.

"I went through a period where I felt I was batting with a stump in my hand," the Durham all-rounder commented.

"Thankfully I got that hundred earlier in the week [against New Zealand] and it gives you a lot of confidence.

"I went out there with a positive attitude again and it's a great feeling to bring the boys home."

Collingwood finished with an unbeaten 120 as England won the first game of the best of three Commonwealth Bank Series final by four wickets.

Stands of 133 with Ian Bell and 74 with skipper Andrew Flintoff kept the team in contention and Collingwood saw it through to the end for his highest score in a limited overs international.

"I'm not the hardest hitter in the world, so I have to pick the ones and twos up and the big fields over here suit my game a little bit.

"That's the way I play. I don't want to go outside my bubble and try to play like a Freddie Flintoff or a Kevin Pietersen, I play like Paul Collingwood and hopefully that's good enough," the 30-year-old added.

We can finish the tour on a high and that's a huge incentive

Andrew Flintoff

England went into the game handicapped by the absence of captain Michael Vaughan, who was ruled out of the finals because of a recurrence of his hamstring problem.

But they rose to the occasion in a performance which delighted stand-in skipper Flintoff.

He hailed Collingwood's innings as the best he had seen in a one-day match by an England batsman.

"The way he knocked ball round, the stamina and mental strength, the skill and timing was something to behold.

"This side is renowned for scrapping and showing a lot of character and Paul typifies that - he leads in that respect," said Flintoff.

He admitted the nerves had been jangling in the closing overs, adding: "I was a little bit excitable, clapping every run as you can imagine, but while Colly was out there I had every faith [we'd do it]."

Wicket-keeper Paul Nixon was with Collingwood at the end, and he revealed that a rocket for the team from Flintoff during Australia's innings had also been crucial.

Australia were 170-1 at one stage, but collapsed to 252 all out as England raised their game.

"In the last 10-15 overs when we were in the field, Freddie kicked us back into gear," said Nixon.

"We weren't on it and he reminded us this is a final, big time. It was important to get the collective thought process going again."

The two sides now head to Sydney for Sunday's second game, with England looking to win Australia's tri-series trophy for the first time since their 1986-87 tour.

"We've 'snuck' into these finals - and I've been like a bear with a sore head after our defeats - so it would be nice to bring something home.

"There are still two games left, and we'll try our damnedest to go 2-0 up on Sunday - although we know Australia will come back fighting. But we can finish the tour on a high and that's a huge incentive," said Flintoff.

SEE ALSO
Ponting laments batting collapse
09 Feb 07 |  England
Australia v England photos
09 Feb 07 |  Cricket


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