Paul Collingwood interested in becoming permanent England head coach after brief stint in charge in the Caribbean – and he wants Joe Root to carry on as captain despite calls for him to resign in the wake of series defeat by West Indies
- Paul Collingwood signed off as England’s interim Test coach on Monday
- He took charge for the Test series in West Indies after Chris Silverwood left
- Collingwood believes the team is already ‘a lot stronger’ despite series defeat
- Under-fire captain Joe Root still has backing of the players and coaching staff
Paul Collingwood signed off as England’s interim Test coach on Monday by swimming against the Caribbean tide and insisting Joe Root should remain captain.
As Collingwood’s fellow former England captains lined up in the media to virtually unanimously call for Root to step down after yet another series defeat, the man entrusted with steadying the England ship after the Ashes saw it very differently.
Not only did interim coach Collingwood call for Root to carry on but he insisted he would be leaving the England team in a better place than he found it and he ‘couldn’t be more positive’ about what they had done on this Caribbean tour.
Paul Collingwood (above) signed off as England’s interim Test coach on Monday
‘Sometimes it amazes me Joe gets questioned because of how it feels within the dressing room,’ said Collingwood as he digested the reaction to a last Test defeat by West Indies that leaves England firmly at the bottom of the World Test Championship table.
‘It’s the first time I’ve worked with him as a head coach and you can see the passion and drive. There’s a real hunger to get it right. These aren’t just words coming out of his mouth. He’s desperate to get the team back to winning games of cricket.
‘I can’t talk anything other than positively about what Joe has done in leadership terms trying to move this team forward. He’s been unbelievable in this Test series to work with and to see how he goes about his business.’
Joe Root is facing calls to resign as England captain after the defeat by the West Indies
That may be the view inside the England dressing room, where Root clearly still does have the backing of the players and coaching staff, but most voices outside beg to differ. Not least because England have won one of their last 17 Tests and have gone five series without victory, the latest coming against a West Indies who have almost as bad a record as England have.
‘Of course I can see where people are coming from because we are not winning games of cricket. When you have our record I can understand the noise,’ said Collingwood. ‘But you have to understand how it feels in the dressing room. Joe has the backing of all players and management and it feels like he’s very much our No1 to take this team forward.’
It is not the first time the man who lifted the Twenty20 World Cup for England in 2010 has been unequivocal in his support of the players. And while this was not exactly in the ‘they all deserve medals just for turning up in Australia’ category, Collingwood is clearly still very close to the team. Perhaps too close.
Under-fire England captain still has the backing of the players and coaching staff
‘I couldn’t be more positive about what we’ve done in the West Indies,’ he went on. ‘The response from the players after Australia, the way we went about giving them clarity and direction and how open they have been as individuals and as a team has been spot on.
‘It was always my challenge to leave this team in a better place than when I first got it and I personally feel it’s a lot stronger now. Everyone’s seen the results but you could see in Antigua and Barbados there was a real determination to win the games and the guys are going out there and producing some very good cricket. If they continue playing like that they will turn the corner and win games very quickly.’
But what about the final Test in Grenada when England imploded just when the series was up for grabs? ‘It wasn’t up to the standards of the first two games and we hold our hands up to that,’ said Collingwood.
‘You talk about putting pressure on the opposition until they break. Well, I think on that third morning we actually broke ourselves and the frustration in not being able to take the final two wickets filtered through to the batting. We said at the start we’re not the finished article but we’ve done a hell of a lot of good things here.’
The West Indies won the three-Test series 1-0 after victory in the decider in Grenada
Whether the new managing director of England cricket, who will be appointed in late April, sees it that way remains to be seen. Collingwood wants to continue in the England set-up but perhaps has a better chance of working with the white ball team than red.
‘I’ve thrown my hat into the ring and if they want us they know where I am,’ he said. ‘I haven’t got much experience as a head coach but you would never get a job if that’s all that mattered.
‘I feel as though I’ve made a good start but it’s only a start. If I were to take this team forward I’d want to make them a lot better as quickly as possible.’
It remains to be seen whether he will get the chance.