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Page last updated at 23:12 GMT, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Paul Collingwood calls time on Test career


Time feels right to retire - Collingwood

England's Paul Collingwood has announced his retirement from Test cricket at the age of 34.

The Durham batsman, who has scored 4,259 runs in 68 Tests at an average of 40.25, will step down after the final Ashes Test against Australia in Sydney.

Collingwood is England's Twenty20 captain and will continue to play limited-overs cricket for his country.

"Now is the time to ensure some of the younger players get an opportunity at Test level," said Collingwood.

He has struggled with the bat in the current series, making only 83 runs from six innings at an average of 13.83.

And there is no shortage of players queuing up for an opportunity in England's middle order with Middlesex's Eoin Morgan, a member of the Ashes squad but not picked for any of the Tests, James Hildreth of Somerset and Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale the leading candidates to fill the gap.

Collingwood said in a statement: "Representing England at Test level has always been a dream of mine and I've been fortunate enough to have enjoyed some amazing highs throughout my Test career.

He's been a very good, tough cricketer -He hasn't had a great series but he's been a spiritual leader to the team

Justin Langer on Collingwood

"I'm proud of the fact that I've always given my all for the England Test team but I feel that this is the right time to leave Test cricket having reached some very special achievements, none more satisfying than retaining the Ashes in Australia.

"Clearly I still feel I have a huge amount to offer England in terms of limited overs cricket and I'm looking forward to the opportunity to continue leading the Twenty20 squad and playing a significant role in England's ODI team."

Collingwood, who led England to the World Twenty20 title in the Caribbean last May, told BBC Test Match Special that he had made the decision to end his Test career "a few days ago".

He continued: "I was hoping to go out with a bit of a fairytale ending but it wasn't to be. Still, I'm very happy with the decision, it's the right time to do it - I don't think there's a better way to go out of the game in the Test format than retaining the Ashes.

"I'm very realistic, this team is moving forward and I'm 34, coming up 35 in May, and whether my technique and skill in the Test format of the game can keep up with these young guys who are coming through, I doubt it very much.

"I'm certainly very happy with what I've done throughout my career. I've got a lot of great memories."

Born in Shotley Bridge and a proud Sunderland fan, Collingwood made his debut in one-day internationals in 2001, but had to wait two and a half years for his first shot at Test cricket, in Sri Lanka.

In his third appearance he replaced the injured Simon Jones in the final Test of the victorious 2005 Ashes series, and the first of 10 Test centuries followed against India at Nagpur, in March 2006.

His double-century in the second Test in Adelaide was one of England's rare highlights as they lost the previous Ashes series down under 5-0.


Collingwood's batting also came to the fore in the first Ashes Test in Cardiff in 2009, when a patient 74 on the final day helped England claim a crucial draw en route to a 2-1 series victory.

There was more defiance with an innings of 40 in nearly five hours on the final day of the Cape Town Test in the 2009-10 series when England drew with South Africa.

Collingwood is also one of the finest fielders of his generation, producing some superb catches and run-outs, including a brilliant leaping one-handed effort at slip to dismiss Australia captain Ricky Ponting during the third Test in Perth.

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff paid tribute to his former team-mate on Twitter, saying: "Paul's been a great servant to English Test cricket and played a major role in the team's success, think it's the right move to go out on the ultimate high winning in Aussie, I'm sure he'll continue to lead, play and perform in the future in the shorter forms, congrats."

Justin Langer, Australia's batting coach, said Collingwood had made the most of his talent.

He told BBC Sport's Test Match Special: "He's been a very good, tough cricketer. He hasn't had a great series but he's been a spiritual leader to the team.

"He's always in your face in the field and has made the most of his ability. He didn't give anything away, played within his limitations and has had a very good Test career.

"He's also a brilliant fieldsman and gives energy to the team in the field and has got leadership through his attitude to the game."

Collingwood led England to their first major limited-overs tournament success at last year's World Twenty20 in West Indies and is expected to play a key role in England's World Cup campaign, which starts next month.

Hugh Morris, managing director of England Cricket, said: "Paul has made an outstanding contribution to the Test team.

"His performances have been admired and recognised by his teammates and England supporters over many years and his tireless commitment in the Test match arena will be something he will always be remembered for."

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Cook and Bell make Aussies suffer
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