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England’s death bowling must improve, admits Paul Collingwood

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-01-25

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Paul Collingwood believes Chris Jordan is the “perfect” Twenty20 cricketer but admits England’s shortcomings while bowling at the back end of innings have been highlighted recently.

Jordan is renowned as one of the world’s best fielders and his batting in the first two T20s against the West Indies has been a fillip in the Caribbean, although he has seemed to go off the boil while bowling at the death.

For so long England’s go-to as the game reaches a crescendo, Jordan was pummelled by Jimmy Neesham in England’s T20 World Cup loss against New Zealand in November, leaking 23 in the over that shifted the momentum of the semi-final.

He was flayed for three sixes in four balls towards the end of Sunday’s second T20 against the Windies, who came within two runs of pulling off a terrific heist, although England prevailed to square the five-match series.

Collingwood refused to single out any individuals, preferring to highlight the overall contributions of England’s all-time leading T20 wicket-taker, but he acknowledged they must improve their bowling in the pressure scenarios.

He said: “CJ gives you a lot in other parts of the game, of course. He’s the perfect kind of T20 cricketer. But in the end that death bowling is something we need to improve on.

“We can’t hide away from the fact that it is an area that, if we get right, then it is a very formidable side. We just have to make sure that we can rely on four or five to do the job at any given time.

“Whether it’s CJ, whether it’s Reece Topley, Tymal Mills , Mark Wood , Chris Woakes , Jofra Archer when he gets himself fit – there’s a lot of players out there who can do the job.”

Collingwood revealed big-hitting batting all-rounder Liam Livingstone could return to the side as England ponder whether to freshen up their line-up, having used just 12 of their 17-strong squad in last weekend’s double-header.

Livingstone has been sidelined so far because of a throat inflammation, but he is one of the leading white-ball talents in the country and is one of just four England males to have registered a T20 international hundred.

Collingwood said: “Liam’s had oesophagitis. He’s getting a lot more energy back in himself, he’s looking more himself, so hopefully he’s fine, there’s a good chance.

“He’s great to balance the side he’s had a wonderful year in white-ball cricket. He’s confident, he’s box office – we all desperately want to see him play. It will be fantastic to see if he’s fit.”

Collingwood is one of two England assistants, alongside Graham Thorpe , but has stepped up as stand-in coach for this series, with all matches played in Barbados, in the absence of Chris Silverwood resting after the Ashes.

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Silverwood has come in for criticism following England’s 4-0 defeat in Australia, but his tenure, largely against the backdrop of Covid and with restrictive environments often in place, has been defended by Collingwood.

England have attempted to mitigate the claustrophobic nature of bubbles by resting and rotating players to keep them fresh, which has often meant they have been unable to field their best side, while this whistle-stop tour is taking place without the likes of T20 regulars Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow , Dawid Malan , Ben Stokes and Mark Wood.

Collingwood added: “I’ve got utmost respect for what Spoons (Silverwood) has had to deal with over the past three years as a coach. I don’t think you could have got a more difficult period to try to get the best out of the team.

“Most of the time, you don’t have your best teams on the park. A lot of the times, you’re having to rotate players mentally, not just physically, but mentally from these bubbles.

“I sympathise 100 per cent with what the guys have gone through in the Ashes. I would hope that people can see that and understand that.”

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