Paul Collingwood comes of age

The batsman showed his confidence with the way he used his feet against Kumble and Harbhajan.

india Updated: Mar 02, 2006 20:51 IST

Tours to India were once considered as a punishment by England, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, and invariably several big names gave it a miss when a team from the Old Blighty visited the sub-continent.

The Indian fans never saw the likes of the great Alec Bedser and 'Fiery Fred' Trueman play in this country as also batting greats like Len Hutton and Walter Hammond, to name only a few, though Dennis Compton went to the other extreme and even played in Ranji Trophy.

Even as late as the early 1970s players like Geoff Boycott, a man who often visits India as commentator after his playing days and is here for the current visit by England too, and Ray Illingworth used to give the Indian visit a miss.

Welshman Tony Lewis, who otherwise may not have even made the squad, led a depleted side to India sans Boycott, Illingworth, Edrich and Snow in 1972 and lost the series to Ajit Wadekar's team.

Things have changed especially over the last two decades as every England player now looks forward to not only visiting India to play Tests and ODIs but also to learn the tricks of playing on Indian pitches as is the case with debutant opener Alastair Cook who made an impressive 60 on the first day of the opening Test here on Wednesday.

Cook on Wednesday said that his visit to Mumbai for two weeks as a member of an Essex side helped him immensely in combating spin bowling on his Test debut after being inducted straightaway in the eleven within three days of flying in from the Caribbean where he was a part of the A team.

Durham's Paul Collingwood, who played a splendid innings of 134 not out to guide England from a shaky 246 for seven overnight to a much more competitive total of 393, is among this new breed of English players in his approach to batting on Indian wickets.

On Wednesday he was circumspect, gauging the pace and bounce of the wicket to a nicety as he eschewed all risks to remain unconquered on 56.

His perseverance paid rich dividends on Thursday as he managed to shepherd the tail pretty well to notch his maiden Test century in his sixth match after having made his debut in 2003-04 against Sri Lanka.

The manner in which he used his feet against the Indian spin twins— Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh— showed his increasing confidence in tackling the slow bowling menace on wickets assisting spin bowling.

The 29-year-old all rounder, yet to cement his place in the Test squad after having played 85 ODIs, would have grown in stature by leaps and bounds after his effort at the VCA stadium.

The knock might well be the coming of age at the Test level for the right handed batsman who made his international debut five years ago in a ODI against Pakistan at Edgbaston during the NatWest series.

For a century on Indian soil against two of the world's leading exponents of spin bowling with a combined Test wicket tally of over 700 cannot be glossed over easily.

First Published: Mar 02, 2006 20:51 IST