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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 February, 2003, 10:51 GMT

Every game crucial now
Paul Collingwood
By Paul Collingwood
England all-rounder

Four points lost before we have even made it on to the pitch - what a disappointment.

We were genuinely hopeful that the ICC Technical Committee would reschedule the fixture against Zimbabwe, or perhaps let us share the points.

I'd be telling lies if I said that it hasn't taken some of the edge off the experience of playing in a World Cup.

You want to play every game, whether it's your first tournament like me, or your last like Alec Stewart.

Paul Collingwood in the nets
My World Cup starts here

We're obviously desperate to get to the Super Sixes and go on from there and obviously the task is that much harder for us now.

But we've shown in the past that we're at our best when we're fighting and perhaps this will bring out the best in us.

Better, at least, than my experience of playing against Holland in the NatWest Trophy for Durham five years ago.

We went over to Amsterdam with everyone expecting us to win easily but lost the game on one of the slowest, lowest pitches I have come across.

You couldn't imagine how devastating and embarrassing that was.

That's why we're approaching every game, including the minnows, as if we were playing against Australia.

Our experience over the past five months means that we now know the standards needed to beat the best side in the world.

And that's what we're looking for in every game.

You shouldn't change anything just because you are playing a team predominantly made up of amateurs.

If it's good enough for the best side in the world, it will definitely be good enough for Holland.

We're expecting everything will happen at a slower pace and the ball will take that much longer to come on to the bat.

But the tactics and the principles are the same as any other international.

Tim de Leede takes a wicket
The Dutch did well in the field against India

Not only that but we can't rely on a fast surface.

We played a practice game here in East London and pitch was slow - not as slow as that day in Amsterdam, but certainly not the pace that would suit our stroke-makers.

It was windy, too, which meant that you had to look to hit downwind.

As a bowler, it means that you have to bring your length back a bit and bowl straighter.

But forget about the tactics.

All we really care about is that we're finally going to pull on our England shirts and start our World Cup campaign.

It had better be worth the wait.

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