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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 08:22 GMT
World Cup starts with Pakistan
Paul Collingwood
By Paul Collingwood
England all-rounder

If we were in need of a wake-up call we certainly got one against Namibia.

We never underestimated them, but I'd be lying if I said that we weren't taken by surprise by how well J B Burger batted.

J B Burger
Namibia's J B Burger had England worried on Wednesday
We always knew that once we got among their middle order we would win comfortably, but for a while there they had us worried.

Marcus Trescothick had the Duckworth/Lewis sheet in his pocket, but by the middle of their innings it was so damp and sweaty that he could hardly read it.

We weren't panicking, but another 10 or 15 overs of Burger and the game would have begun to slip away from us.

Forget the fact that he was playing for Namibia, we were bowling to him as if he was Matthew Hayden or Adam Gilchrist.

It was an eye-opener, that's for sure, and I don't think people have given them enough credit.

We didn't bowl badly to him but he was hitting the ball as cleanly as anyone.

And it's only after seeing a batsman two or three times that it is truly possible to work out his weak areas.

It is almost a relief that the potential banana skins are out of the way and we can concentrate on the big boys.

I've never played at Newlands but they tell me it's a special place - not just the setting, but also the crowd.

And I've got a point to settle against Pakistan.

I made my international debut against them two summers ago and only made two runs in two innings against them, including a first-ball duck.

Wasim Akram
Pakistan's Wasim Akram will pose a threat to England
But I'm a better, more confident, player now, with experience of playing at this level around the world.

We know that they can be brilliant one minute and off their game the next.

But on their day they can beat anybody - and I would say the same for us.

That said, we have very different styles.

They come at you - Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar with the ball, and Shahid Afridi with the bat.

We play a different sort of game, based around discipline.

We obviously have world class players - Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick are as good an opening pair as any two in the world - but we must play to our strengths which is solid professionalism.

After all the waiting, and the two matches against the minnows, the World Cup starts here.

We are treating the match as if it is our final.

We can't take anything for granted, but at least this time we know what to expect.


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