Paul Collingwood will make his comeback for England claiming he has no regrets about giving up the captaincy he believes was threatening his Test place.

The Durham all-rounder returns to action in Tuesday’s second match of the NatWest Series at Trent Bridge for his first match since relinquishing the captaincy of the one-day side after just over a year in charge.

During his time as captain, Collingwood’s form at Test level suffered dramatically and he went 25 innings between centuries – a run which was only ended during the third Test at Edgbaston after he had privately resolved to inform England he was ready to step down.

His decision was overshadowed by the sudden announcement of Michael Vaughan to also step down as Test captain, but Collingwood admits the pressures were beginning to tell on him – and threaten the Test place he craves so much.

“I thought it was too much of a coincidence that I scored a hundred against West Indies just before I got the captaincy last year and I scored another hundred the day after I gave it up,” he said.

collingwood.jpg“It was very much a relief. I spoke to my wife on the Thursday night and said I couldn’t keep going like that because I was going to lose my Test spot and that’s going to hurt the most.

“It’s always been the thing I’ve wanted most in cricket, to cement my Test spot, and I didn’t want to give that away easily.”

During his time as captain Collingwood also suffered the indignity of facing widespread criticism after running out Grant Elliott during a one-day match against New Zealand at The Oval after he had collided with Ryan Sidebottom.

He was then given a four-match ban for failing to maintain a proper over rate, which he has now completed to prompt his return at Trent Bridge.


The International Cricket Council’s umpire referral system came into use for the first time on Thursday when India asked for a review of a lbw decision on the second day of the first Test between India and Sri Lanka.

Off spinner Harbhajan Singh struck Sri Lanka’s Malinda Warnapura on the pads in the 46th over of their opening innings with a delivery that pitched on middle stump and seemed to be drifting down leg.

Their appeal was turned down by on-field umpire Mark Benson with Warnapurna on 86.

Skipper Anil Kumble challenged the decision and the umpire referred it to third umpire Rudi Koertzen, who also ruled not out.

The decision leaves India with only two challenges remaining.


England are refusing to put a date on Andrew Flintoff’s return to international cricket as they begin their journey home following Test series success in New Zealand.

The team fly back on Thursday having clinched a 2-1 win with victory in final Test at Napier on Wednesday.

Coach Peter Moores is now looking ahead to the summer and the return series against New Zealand, which is followed by four Tests against South Africa.

Their options for both series would be improved considerably if they could call upon the services of Lancashire all-rounder Flintoff, who is now playing again following a fourth operation on his troublesome left ankle.

But England are remaining patient over the 30-year-old Ashes hero and are willing to give him time to recover his match sharpness and fitness before they consider recalling him.

“We’re deliberately not putting a date on it,” stressed Moores. “He’s got to be fit and feeling good about himself first.

“Andrew’s progress is very promising. He’s bowling and the reports back are good. The key for him is not to push it until he feels very happy in himself and the medical staff are very happy at where he’s at.

flintoff.jpg“When he’s in the right sort of form then we will make the decision of how and where he will fit into that England team.

“It’s nice he’s progressing so well because as a cricketer he’s one of those player that can make a real difference.”

Flintoff, who featured in all but one of Lancashire’s games on their pre-season tour in Dubai, has targeted that first Test against New Zealand on May 15 as a possible return date.

But with England winning their last two Tests against the Kiwis and both Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison also competing for places in the side after being dropped, they can possibly afford to wait for the return of Flintoff.

“The progression he’s going through at the moment with Lancashire is for him to get stuck into the season,” said Moores.

“Naturally that will happen and he’ll get a chance to play as a batsman and a bowler and get battle-hardened again in county cricket after a reasonable time out.”

Flintoff could possibly play 23 days of senior cricket before the first Test with matches for the MCC against Sussex in the traditional season curtain-raiser and all of Lancashire’s fixtures before then.


Monty Panesar delivered a career-best performance as England completed a comprehensive 121-run victory over New Zealand to end a three-year wait for an overseas Test series win.

monty_panesar.jpgThe left-arm spinner claimed six for 126 as New Zealand were finally dismissed for 431 shortly after lunch on the final day of the third Test after being set an unlikely victory target of 553.

England’s victory parade was briefly held up by Kiwi debutant Tim Southee, who delighted the crowd with a whirlwind 40-ball 77 not out at the end.

Panesar’s figures eclipsed his previous Test best of six for 129 against West Indies at Old Trafford last summer, and it was his seventh five-wicket haul in 26 appearances.

His efforts ensured England completed a 2-1 series triumph, their first overseas since beating South Africa in 2004-05.

It was also the first time they had come from behind to win a three-Test series since Sri Lanka seven years ago.

New Zealand had initially frustrated the tourists after resuming at McLean Park on 222 for five with Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum adding 54 runs in the first nine overs of the day.

But the introduction of Panesar in the seventh over changed the situation as he struck with his 12th ball to end a spirited 104-run partnership.

Taylor, unbeaten on 34 overnight, looked particularly defiant and hit three boundaries in the first over from man-of-the-series Ryan Sidebottom, who was withdrawn after his opening three-over spell cost 31 runs.

Taylor took just three overs to bring up his half-century with a clip off his legs off Sidebottom and McCullum looked equally comfortable at the crease.


South Africa’s top order laid the foundations for a large first-innings total on the first day of the opening Test against India in Chennai.

After openers Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie both posted half-centuries, Hashim Amla remained unbeaten on 85 at the close to help guide the tourists to 304 for four.

The Indians grabbed two wickets during the evening session to rein in the Proteas’ early charge with Jacques Kallis (13) and Ashwell Prince (23) failing to capitalise on the top order’s earlier efforts.

AB de Villiers (10 not out) finished the day at the crease alongside Amla, who struck 10 fours in his patient innings.

The Indian bowlers were made to toil in hot conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, where they have lost just one Test in the last 23 years, with spin duo Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble claiming two wickets apiece.

Earlier, after Smith had won the toss and elected to bat, he and opening partner McKenzie took up where they left off against Bangladesh earlier this month when they set a world record opening stand of 415 to help clinch that series.

The pair reached their half-centuries in guiding the Proteas to lunch at 109 without loss.

smith.jpgTheir stand should have been brought to an end soon after the break, but for a clumsy piece of keeping from Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Smith drove loosely at a wide delivery from Shantha Sreesanth, and after diving to his right, Dhoni spilled the ball as he began to rise to his feet.

Umpire Asad Rauf adjudged he had not held the ball long enough to allow Smith an unlikely reprieve.

The Proteas captain, however, failed to cash in on his good fortune and fell for 73 soon after when he mis-timed a drive to VVS Laxman at short mid-on off the bowling of Kumble with the score on 132.