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Collingwood's resignation unsurprising - Sunil Gavaskar Column
by Sunil Gavaskar
Aug 08, 2008
English cricket has been thrown into turmoil with the simultaneous resignations of the Test and one-day captainship by Michael Vaughan and Paul Collingwood. Vaughan retired in tears after the series defeat against South Africa, and also asked not to be considered for the final Test at The Oval, thereby giving some breathing space to his successor Pietersen, but has said that he wants to resurrect his career as a batsman now. He is hoping that playing without the responsibility of captaincy will help prolong his Test career, and since he is only 33 years old, which is young by English standards, he should have a few more runs ahead of him. Vaughan was under increasing pressure after South Africa escaped from jail in the first Test after being asked to follow on, and then won the second Test. England had a good chance to level the series after Collingwood's brilliant century, but Monty Panesar once again like at Lords, was unable to use the fourth innings wicket to spin England to a win.

England have appointed Kevin Pietersen as the skipper which means that there would be the odd sight of two South Africans going out to toss in the final Test at The Oval. Of course Pietersen's enormous success has ensured that he has been accepted as English by most if not all in England, unlike Pattinson who from the first ball faced hostility not only from the public but the England dressing room itself.

There has been plenty of debate about Pietersen's appointment and while some former players are questioning whether his lack of experience would come in the way, some are worried that his natural flair and flamboyance maybe curbed by the pressures of captaincy and some are hinting at dressing room issues since Pietersen is seen as his own man and not always bothered about the team. They point out to his dismissal in the recent Test that England lost, trying to hit a six to get to a century. Of course the switch hit shots that he played earlier were ignored, for if anything, that had more of a risk element than the attempted loft shot that failed to clear the fielder at deep mid-on.

To rub it in, Collingwood played the same shot to hit a six and get to his century, so comparisons were bound to follow. Pietersen will be well aware that there will be many who will only be waiting for him to falter to pounce on him, and it won't be a surprise if there is some incident somewhere where it will be remarked like it was in Tony Greig, another South African born England captain's case that he is not really English.

This was during World Series cricket when Greig threw his lot with Kerry Packer, and became a pariah in the eyes of the English cricket establishment. Still just like Greig galvanized English cricket with his unorthodox approach to the game, and got it a superb series win in India, Pietersen may well do the same to English cricket, and by a strange coincidence England are to tour India later in the year.

Collingwood's resignation was anticipated after the hue and cry over the runout that occurred in a one-dayer against New Zealand earlier in the summer. He refused to withdraw the appeal despite the umpires offering him the chance to do so after the collision that left a Kiwi batsman stranded a long way off the crease. He was also facing a ban for slow over-rates and Pietersen was skipper for the final one-dayer then. So Collingwood's resignation wasn't as much of a surprise as Vaughan's was.

It is good to see Andrew Flintoff back in England colours, and he was really storming in to try and get South African wickets to win the game for England, and help them level the series. The reason why Flintoff is so hugely regarded all over the world is because he plays the game hard but does not try to take any undue advantage, as could be seen by his reluctance to bowl the yorkers when he realized that the batsmen were losing sight of the ball in the reflection over the sightscreen as he released those deliveries.

After he had got McKenzie and Kallis out leg-before wicket ducking to those deliveries and being struck low on the pads, he stopped those deliveries and concentrated on the regular deliveries which the batsman could pick up. How many players would do this and that too in a game which their team had to win to stay alive in the series?

The sad part was that the ground authorities did nothing to ensure that batsmen were not inconvenienced. It is hard to understand why the umpires did not take matters in their hands and ask the ground authorities to cover the area where the batsmen were losing sight of the ball. If there was a tear in the covers or even the sightscreens then wouldn't that be repaired? Haven't advertising boards been covered when fielders have lost sight of the ball with them in the background, or if there is the suns reflection off them; then why not cover the portion where the ball was being lost?

So was there any adverse word in the Brit papers about the inadequacy at the ground? Nope. Just imagine the hullabaloo if it had happened on a ground in the sub-continent and England batsmen were the victims.
 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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  National duty comes first
  One-day game is alive and well
  Dhoni bears the fury of the media
  Spirit of Cricket
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