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Shirin Sadikot in Johannesburg

Collingwood's direct hit

Scorchers all-rounder on his fondness for fielding, CLT20, Kallis and more

Resilient, fearless and selfless – these are the words that dignifiedly sit with the name of Paul Collingwood. Cricketers more gifted than him have vanished into obscurity before stitching together a career worth mentioning. But Collingwood, extracting everything and more from his abilities as a cricketer, carved out a decade-long international career for England.

Being useful to the team’s cause seemed to be Collingwood’s sole purpose of stepping on to a cricket field – be it with dogged runs, breezy cameos, tight overs or gingery work in the field. It was, in a lot of ways, so apt that a man with his dedication led England to their first major ICC tournament title – the 2010 ICC World Twenty20.

The 36-year-old all-rounder is currently in South Africa to get his first taste of the Champions League Twenty20 with the Perth Scorchers. In a wide-ranging chat with clt20.com, he spoke about his time with the Australian domestic team, his favourite all-rounders and his unwavering love for fitness and fielding.

Besides, his typical reaction to being called a medium-paced all-rounder was an embarrassed smile accompanied with “I don’t think I can be called a pace bowler.”

Read on for more such gems from Colly.

CLT20 – a new avenue

I’m very excited. I’d been at Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash last year and it was a fantastic experience. But to do well there as a team and get to CLT20 is a pinnacle of T20 cricket.

An Englishman in an Aussie change room

I got more boos from the crowd than the players. But that was to be expected. The boys were fantastic from day one. They created a very friendly environment in the dressing room and we’ve had a lot of fun. We play hard against each other when England play Australia but when we’re in the same team we play for each other.

Old legs? No, it’s shrewd heads

I think having experienced guys in a T20 side can give you an edge. Everybody tends to think the older guys are maybe over the hill and too slow. But the older guys in our team are still very energetic and good athletes. To have someone with the experience of having played around the world can only be a good thing for the team. To gauge what the opposition batsman or bowler is trying to do quickly is an important part of succeeding in T20s.

The wily old livewires

Working on your fitness is something very individual. When you’re still playing first-class cricket, you’ve got to keep your fitness levels really high. All the senior guys at Perth Scorchers – Brad Hogg, Simon Katich, Herschelle Gibbs – take a lot of pride in what they do on the field and their fitness. Age is just a number if you’re energetic and are moving well on the field.

The ‘all-round’ heroes

Steve Waugh was my cricketing hero while growing up. He did bowl a bit of medium pace as a youngster, before graduating into the Australian team. As my cricket career went on, I’d say it was probably Jacques Kallis more than anybody else.

Perfection, they name is Jacques

Kallis’s biggest strength is his all-round ability. He just doesn’t have any weakness. If you look at his statistics with the ball, plenty of bowlers will be happy with that record. He averages 50-odd with the bat in Test cricket and he has bucket-like hands in the slips. So, arguably you can put him down as the best cricketer to have ever played the game.

For the love of fielding

Fielding comes naturally to me. As a kid I was used to dive around on the playground. So, it’s something that I love since an early age. But you’ve also got to work hard for it. You only get probably 50 percent of it naturally and for the remaining 50 percent you have to work hard. Like in batting and bowling, even in fielding you have strengths and weaknesses. You’ve got to find out what works for you and stick to it.

Anticipation is the real key in fielding. If you can gain two-three yards just by anticipating where the ball will go, you’ve got a head start straight away. Agility, the speed at which you get to the ball and the angles that you cut down is important too. The thing about fielding is that you’ve got to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, you don’t tend to perform to the best of your ability or train as hard as you should. I’ve always loved fielding.

Look, a goalie on the cricket field!

I was lucky enough to be a goalkeeper when I was young. A lot of my techniques of cutting the ball or saving it came from that experience of playing football. I used to love fielding at backward point, pretending I was a goalkeeper.

Jonty and me

I wouldn’t like to compare myself with Jonty Rhodes. He, being a bit smaller than me, seemed to get to the ball a lot quicker than I did. Just his athleticism and the energy that he had, I wished I could come close to him in that regards. He was exceptional at stopping the ball at certain angles and diving around and thriving on the fact that his diving around will help the team. That’s exactly what I look to do.

The current torchbearer

AB de Villiers is the best fielder in the world. When he doesn’t have his ‘keeping gloves on, he is very special in the field. What he brings into the side as a ‘keeper is also important, but because of it world cricket is missing out on a very special fielding talent.

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