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Last Updated:  Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 14:56 GMT
Focus back on cricket
Paul Collingwood
By Paul Collingwood
England all-rounder

It has been good to get back to training over the last few days without having to worry about the situation over the match in Zimbabwe.

The week, since we arrived in Cape Town, has been pretty tough - certainly over last weekend when there were so many meetings that we just didn't get a chance to practice.

It was a very stressful time for the whole of the squad and getting back in the nets has been refreshing.

If anything, though, all the off-field trouble has pulled us together more as a squad.

Thankfully we've stuck together through the hard times and the morale is now high.

Saturday's opening ceremony at Newlands was a lot of fun.

Some of us - I won't name names - started a bit of a sing-song and we had a good time.

You may have noticed a few wannabe Jimmy Andersons out there too. A few of the lads have been away a very long time and got a bit bored so they went and found a decent hairdresser!

The ceremony also opened a few eyes as to exactly what we're involved with and the challenge facing us.

Getting out into the middle with everything going on around you, the bright lights and the anthems, makes you realise what a big occasion the World Cup is.

We still don't know exactly what will happen with the Zimbabwe match but in a way it is good to ease ourselves into the tournament with matches against Holland and Namibia.

Nasser Hussain carries the flag
The opening ceremony was a memorable experience

If you go into lesser games expecting them to be easy, however, they have a tendency to bite you on the backside.

Then we've got Pakistan, India and Australia all in the space of nine days.

You can't look at a schedule and say: "We can guarantee four points there and afford to lose that one."

You have to look to win every single match that you play, and that is exactly what we will be doing.

Obviously we will have been out of action for longer than the other sides when we finally play our first match on Sunday, but we have just played six one-day matches against Australia.

When you take on the world's best your standards rise and you learn a lot.

Whoever we come up against now we will expect to play to the same standard as we did against Australia.




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