Although he did not play in the first Twenty20 International in Lahore on Tuesday (September 12), Paul Collingwood, the World XI veteran, shared every moment of the historic occasion which marked the return of big-time international cricket to Pakistan.
The allrounder, who can lay claim to Twenty20 greatness by virtue of being the only captain to lead England to an international trophy – the World T20 in 2010 — was in a jovial mood, replying to questions with wit to trigger laughter at the post-match press conference. He promised to share his experiences with some of his teammates to help bring more cricket to Pakistan.
“I am on Twitter. I am on Instagram, so I am already sharing a lot (of the feedback). At this moment of time, I am having a great time. The experience that I am having here is very positive because I can sense that everyone wants this to work and everybody wants this opportunity for these game to go unscarred and to be a real success and we all want that.
“So of course if everything goes well over the next four days, then I will go home and say that I had a great time.”
Just three months ago, Collingwood became the oldest player, at 41, to score a T20 century. To have come out of retirement and be part of this World XI tour is very exciting for the Durham legend.
“I am like a kid at Christmas, to be honest with you. I am 41 years old and to actually have the feeling of being in a Twenty20 International again is something I am very excited about.
“The last time I came to Pakistan, I understood that cricket in Pakistan is a religion. The passion and the atmosphere that you create in the ground is something special. I experienced that certainly in Karachi in 2005 and certainly tonight was a great start to, hopefully, a series that we can still win. So I am very much looking forward to playing in the game.”
Collingwood would have been initially reluctant to come, having retired and heard a lot about security problems in terror-hit Pakistan, but once he made up his mind, touring Pakistan was not a worry.
“I am very proud, I can tell you right now. I came out of the net session yesterday and it felt like I was playing international cricket again. That, to me, when I retired back in 2011 and to have that same feeling again, that anxiety and that intensity and all those things when you play for your country and they all come back again, so I am very excited about playing.
“Once I heard that there are three Twenty20 Internationals and there was a chance I could be a part of that, it was an easy decision to make.”
Collingwood had memories of lively crowds in Pakistan and on Tuesday, he said the fans matched that intensity — although it wasn’t a full house much to the disappointment of everyone — of the past when Pakistan was regularly hosting international matches.
“I think the intensity was there. Obviously, the crowd wasn’t 100% capacity but the noise they make, you can just sense in the ground that they were really enjoying Pakistan playing the game in their own country and you can sense something special. The way the World XI was received in the ground and on social media by a cricket-loving nation has been superb and to feel that atmosphere again… Hopefully this is a small stepping stone for future cricket in Pakistan.”
The 20-run loss, Collingwood stressed, would need a quick turnaround in this short three-match series.
“We will look for a quick turnaround. Obviously, 24 hours between games. We will learn from tonight’s game, the wicket and conditions and what kind of bowling especially works on this pitch so we will bring that tomorrow. As Tamim (Iqbal, his World XI teammate) said, we will try to stop the batsmen from scoring big totals.
“You know, when a World XI comes together, it takes some time to know each other and certainly Faf du Plessis (the captain) understands the players’ role in the team, what kind of tactics he is going to use when players are coming on to bowl. It’s not to going to gel immediately, so hopefully after today’s game we will take a little bit of information out of the game and we can use that in the next game to have a better performance.”
Recalling his memories of the 2005 tour with England, Collingwood said, “Don’t look at me like that! Don’t be so surprised, I scored runs here, I think I scored 90-odd (in the Lahore Test) against Shoaib Akhtar, a very quick bowler. I have got good memories from here, it was a shame I did not go on to get me a hundred.
“Danish Kaneria caught me out at fine-leg as I went for a hook shot. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t he could either, Danish Kaneria — incredible!”
The second match is on Wednesday, while the final encounter is slated for Friday — all in Lahore.