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Collingwood’s MCG masterpiece: The view from the dressing room

by Paul Nixon 3 minute read

Paul Nixon was at the other end when Paul Collingwood put on a masterpiece at the MCG to give England something to celebrate after a demoralising winter.

After having won the Ashes in a dramatic fashion in the home summer of 2005, England were expected to challenge Australia in bid to retain the urn in 2006/07. However, they failed miserably, losing each of the five Tests that marked their first whitewash in the Ashes in 86 years. Paul Collingwood, however, had made his presence felt , scoring 206 in the second Test in Adelaide, which went in vain courtesy of a collective batting failure in the second innings followed by Michael Hussey’s brilliance.

Nine weeks later, he went on to score a match-winning hundred in the 12th match of the tri-series against New Zealand to secure England a spot in the final. He bettered that two days later in the first of three finals at the MCG, scoring an unbeaten 120 in a tense run-chase to get his team over the line. The ever-reliable right-hander starred in the next game in Sydney too, scoring a patient 70 as the rejuvenated England team defied all odds to trump Ricky Ponting’s men and take the series.

Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood anchored a tricky chase at the MCG against a top-quality Australian attack

Paul Nixon, who’d witnessed a major part of Collingwood’s masterpiece at the MCG from the dressing room and the glory moment from the non-striker’s end picks up the tale.

“We had great spirit in that series and we enjoyed ourselves. Before it began Michael Vaughan, who’d joined the tour after the Test series whitewash, said to us, ‘These guys are a bit down, and it’s up to us newcomers to pick them up,’ and that’s what we did. We’d have a beer in the evenings, when we trained we worked hard but we’d have fun, and it got the guys loving it again.

Paul Collingwood and Nixon stitched an unbeaten 28-run stand to complete a six-wicket win at the MCG

“At 15-3 we were under pressure in that first final and Colly got us back into the game and then took us over the line. When I came in we needed 28 or 29 off about 22 balls, and it was like going into the lion’s den, an absolute cauldron of intensity. We were in the middle of this massive ground – there were about 80,000 in the MCG that day – and the place was shaking because of the noise, the passion – and the alcohol!

“It was a tough pitch, a bit grippier than normal, and the seamers could use their cutters effectively. Nathan Bracken and Glenn McGrath were both bowling really nicely and were hard to get away, but Colly was always up for a scrap, and a really good thinker. He kept getting across the stumps and playing these little dinks, these fine sweeps, which Bracken really struggled to deal with, and against McGrath he bought into KP’s method of using your feet and walking towards him, because he wasn’t quite quick enough then to hit you with the bouncer. It really was a hell of an innings.

“Colly’s a tough campaigner. He wasn’t the most gifted, natural cricketer – he was in the field, but not with the bat in his hand – but he was a dogmatic worker, who trained his socks off, and he turned himself into an outstanding cricketer.”

First published in April 2017

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