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These guys deserve medals, not criticism: Collingwood defends England after Ashes campaign

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Bridgetown (Barbados), Jan 27 (IANS) England’s stand-in head coach Paul Collingwood believes that the country’s Test team deserves to get medals for staying in bio-bubbles for a long time in order to play the Ashes. Though Collingwood admitted that there were mistakes made in selection and toss, he added that Cricket Australia should have agreed to split the Ashes rather than playing all five in one go.

“Yes, we made mistakes, 100%. We made selection mistakes, we made toss mistakes, but the fact we actually turned up and agreed to a five-match Ashes series, the guys should be given medals for that. It would’ve been much better if we’d done two matches and then three next year. That would’ve been a great compromise,” Collingwood was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

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Going into the Ashes, England had to quarantine for 14 days at the Gold Coast and had just two days of full practice before going into Test match mode. The lack of preparation time meant England were hammered 4-0, triggering talks about a reset in red-ball cricket of the country.

“But no, Australia were not bothered that they were going to receive an England team who were mentally fatigued, they just wanted to get the product out there. They just wanted the Ashes. These guys deserve medals, not criticism.”

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“They should be told ‘well done’ for even going. It’s the equivalent of the England football team being asked to go to a World Cup, then from that bubble into the Euros. Would you expect a performance from that scenario? It’s ludicrous,” added Collingwood, the Men’s T20 World Cup-winning captain in 2010.

Collingwood further threw light on how staying in bio-bubbles for long can cause damage to a cricketer’s mindset. “I don’t think people have understood the impact and the effects that these bubbles have had. Going to the Ashes off the back of a tough bubble in Dubai, I think was literally one step too far. You can’t even explain what it’s like until you experience it”

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“The simple fact is you cannot walk out of your front door and as soon as you’re told that you cannot do something as simple as going for a coffee, and you are penned in with the same guys. A lot of people will say ‘that must be fun’ and ‘you’ve got a lovely hotel’ (but) it hits you.”

Collingwood was in the men’s T20 World Cup in the UAE alongside regular head coach Chris Silverwood, players Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood. After England’s campaign in the semi-final ended, the seven Ashes-bound members went to Australia before Collingwood flew back home in the middle of the second Test at Adelaide.

“You are burnt out from the start after your team has been in the intense environment of a World Cup. It wasn’t club cricket that these players were coming from. Then there’s just two days of preparation before going into the Ashes. Australia is the hardest place to go to when you’ve got your best team in form and everyone’s playing consistently. We’ve seen that from the past,” concluded Collingwood.

–IANS

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