Collingwood on guard against Kiwi threat
Paul Collingwood will warn his young England side not to under-estimate New Zealand’s new-look line-up when they meet up in Tuesday’s opening Twenty20 International.
England’s one-day captain leads his side in this format of the game for the first time since the ICC World Twenty20 last September which ended in disappointment for the tourists.
They should be underdogs for the opener to the two-match series at Eden Park, but the loss of several key players has weakened the opposition’s options.
New Zealand are already without captain Daniel Vettori, who will miss both games with a right ankle problem, while spearhead Shane Bond had his contract terminated because of his links with the rebel Indian Cricket League.
But Collingwood will warn his men to stay on their guard against a New Zealand side who were World Twenty20 semi-finalists in South Africa.
“We’re not going to take them lightly,” stressed Collingwood. “They’ve lost a couple of their more experienced players but they are a dangerous side and they always have been.
“We expect them to be as tough and competitive as ever and even the guys that have come in we’ve heard are very attacking players, so we’ve got to make sure we’re on our game.
"We'll be telling the players that. It’s the start of our tour and when they do lose a couple of experienced players you can’t start relaxing.
“We need to go out there and set our standards from ball one. It’s a long tour for all of us and hopefully we’ll set off on the right note. It will set the tone for the tour if we play well in this match with good, aggressive cricket.”
England’s selection posers have been complicated by the form of Essex left-hander Alastair Cook, who was not at the forefront of their plans until he scored a half-century and a hundred over the weekend against Canterbury.
Cook seems certain to be given a role at the top of the order, leaving England choosing between Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Dimitri Mascarenhas for the final two spots.
Eden Park’s small boundary has prompted England to consider overlooking Swann and going into the match without a recognised spinner, despite their success at both international and county level in this format.
“There are a few tough decisions to make,” added Collingwood. “We’ve got quite a few players in good form and it’s going to be hard to get it down to the final XI.”
Both sides are attempting to claim psychological advantages ahead of the five-match one-day series starting next Saturday.