Collingwood pondering international retirement
Paul Collingwood, England's sacked World Twenty20-winning captain, has admitted he is unsure whether he can continue playing if he fails to regain his place in England's one-day sides.
Colingwood, 35, may make his comeback for Durham on Thursday after undergoing knee surgery, but is still reeling from England's decision to replace him with Stuart Broad as captain of the short-format team, which he said had hit him "like a juggernaut".
He retired from Test cricket in January at the end of the Ashes series with the explicit goal of prolonging his international career in 50 and 20-overs cricket but his form suffered as a result of his injury. He says now that if he cannot force his way back into the England reckoning he will consider his future in county cricket as well.
"I'm very determined to come back. I know if I get back to my best form it's going to be very hard for them [England] to leave me out," he said. "You've also got to be realistic. Losing the Twenty20 captaincy shows the game moves on all the time. I'm still centrally contracted until September. After that, we'll have to wait and see.
"I think there's going to be a lot of things happening in the next four weeks in terms of how well I do, if I get my form back, if I get back in the England side, all that kind of stuff, as well as how much I enjoy coming back and playing for Durham."
As Durham seek to regain the Championship title they won in 2009 and 2010, Collingwood intends to play four-day cricket as well as Twenty20. But the fact that he is asking himself whether he would enjoy playing for Durham again after an effectively unbroken six-year stint on the international circuit perhaps provides a telling insight, bringing to mind Michael Vaughan's decision to retire from all cricket once it became clear his international career was over.
Collingwood compared his injury to that which dogged Vaughan towards the end of his career and while he is encouraged on a physical level in that he has suffered little of the post-operative pain that hampered the former England captain, he is clearly aware that without the spur of international cricket it was not long before Vaughan's enthusiasm for a diet of county cricket only began to wane.
"All these emotions I'm going to have to gauge in the next few months, and at the end of the season make a decision then," Collingwood said. "If the worst-case scenario happens and that's it, in terms of England, I'm still delighted with the contributions I've made. If there wasn't another opportunity to play for England, let's be honest, I've had a decent career."
Collingwood has made a record 197 appearances for England in one-day internationals but he was in and out of the side last winter. He made only 114 runs in eight innings, two of which were not out, in 50-overs matches. He played in four of England's first five group matches in the World Cup but was omitted from the last one and from the quarter-final against Sri Lanka.
His comeback against Warwickshire in Durham's domestic Twenty20 opener depends on how his knee reacts after he stepped up his practice to simulate on-field movements.
"The knee has felt a bit more raw than I would have wanted," he said. "It's fine doing rehabilitation in a controlled environment and running in straight lines, but it's different when you're chasing the ball and reacting to things. It's taken a lot of effort to strengthen the knee back up and I don't want any setbacks."
England's summer limited-overs programme begins with a Twenty20 international against Sri Lanka on June 25, followed by a series of five 50-overs matches starting on June 28.
It does not give Collingwood long in which to prove his knee is sound and that he can recover his form, although he is drawing on such positives as he can find.
"When you go through bad form, first of all it's the technical side you look at," he said. "But my technique's pretty much been the same all the way through, certainly for the last five or six years, when I've had some really good spells and some barren spells.
"I'm hoping this break mentally will have done me the world of good in terms of taking all the negatives out of my mind. You don't usually have the chance in international cricket to take that break over a long period of time. In the end the only way you can get into good batting form is by scoring runs in the middle. If you've got limited opportunities - I didn't play in all the games at the World Cup, for example - it can be tough.
"If there's any kind of concern over the knee, it's better off delaying it a little bit. But once I'm fit I'm raring to go and I want to play in all of the Twenty20 games and the four-day stuff as well."