Twelve months on from one of the most glorious days in English cricket history and Paul Collingwood is contemplating what a world champion team needs to do to remain indisputably the best.
‘We have to make sure we don’t stand still because other teams will be improving. That will happen through competition for places and developing skills and experience,’ says Collingwood, who is deputising as England head coach for the three-match series against Ireland while Chris Silverwood takes a break between the Wisden Trophy and three Tests versus Pakistan.
‘If you can call upon 14 to 16 players at any given time who are all at a very similar level — and we are getting close to that because squads are increasingly difficult to pick — that is the way to keep developing.
Paul Collingwood wants ’16 world beaters’ in England’s one-day squad to stay at the top
The stand-in coach will take the reins from Chris Silverwood for the Ireland series
‘It is also important to keep the brand of cricket we played over that previous four years and get better at it. In the past we have played World Cups and then seen a mass exodus and too often a return to a more conservative approach. We have to make sure we don’t lose momentum.’
Collingwood speaks from experience, having captained England to their first global title, the 2010 World Twenty20, and been part of Trevor Bayliss’ backroom staff for the second last summer.
This week’s series against the Irish at the Ageas Bowl represents the first one-day international action on home soil since that most intoxicating of evenings at Lord’s when Ben Stokes inspired victory over New Zealand by ‘the barest of margins’.
The series will be the first time England play one-day cricket on home soil since the World Cup
Collingwood says that the team need to maintain the standards that saw them triumph in 2019
It is also a chance for a new generation of players such as Tom Banton and Saqib Mahmood to try to hoist that bar, with six World Cup winners missing the Ireland series as they are unable to leave the Test team’s Covid-19 bubble.
‘Who is looking to push the likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow?’ Collingwood continues. ‘And what are they like in pressure situations?
‘Winning is important, of course, but we’re looking to develop some of these players’ games for the future.
‘We have a Twenty20 World Cup next year and so we can now see if we can start the process of getting these boys to a similar standard.’
With Eoin Morgan being such a powerful presence, as well as a revered leader of England’s white-ball teams, Collingwood will effectively play something of a backseat role.
Collingwood feels he can take a backseat with captain Eoin Morgan a strong and vocal leader
‘In my opinion, as a coach you have to be very much the same as what we ask the players to be — versatile,’ the former Durham all-rounder says.
‘Players adapt to certain situations in a game, to different conditions and as a coach you have to adapt to different personalities and approaches of a team.
‘There is no point looking to do things the one way you always have. So I feel that I am here to keep them on track, that’s all.
‘This team has done a lot of good things over a long period of time so it would be silly of me to come in trying to change things over a three-week period.’
Collingwood became a permanent member of England’s coaching team last October, having first taken on an assistant role while still a Durham player back in 2014. It was viewed by many as a natural progression, although the man himself says his post-playing ambitions very much mirror those he previously held with regards to captaincy.
The challenge, Collingwood says, is to find players to push the likes of Ben Stokes (right)
‘I was always a reluctant captain,’ he says. ‘I never sought the captain’s job and I guess I am the same in that I have never aspired to be head coach.
‘If it was to come my way, it would be something difficult to turn down but there is no burning desire to do it. Being an assistant coach allows you to play as big a part as anyone.
‘My heart is in England cricket and it will never leave.
‘My time playing for my country was the proudest of my life and to actually have a part to play within the coaching set-up is equally fulfilling. I have found that the fact I played international sport has helped understanding of the pressures involved.
‘Equally, being able to sit on the balcony and watch them push the game forward like they have done has provided a real wow factor.
‘Their talent is frightening and it’s a lot of fun being able to watch it.’
He pointed towards the next generation of talent, such as Saqib Mahmood and Tom Banton
If success is sustained and the fun continues in the long term, it might trigger a job offer from overseas for Collingwood, a man who admits that the sacrifice of being away from his three daughters for three-quarters of the year is the toughest.
Such a suggestion is met with a measured response: ‘We know how fickle coaching is, too. You can be top of the tree one day, looking for a job the next.
‘So never say never on anything. We all have to earn a living some way and ideally that’s with England as long as possible.
‘Trevor Bayliss created something special and Spoons (Silverwood) has carried that on while developing the Test team.
‘I feel we are in a really privileged position. We have lots of good English coaches around, experiencing what it’s like at the top level.
‘Personally, the passion, drive and ambition to make England a better team and to win things is strong.’