ENGLAND’S new-found ambition knows no bounds, with batsman Paul Collingwood outlining the team’s plans to dominate world cricket for the next 15 years in the manner of the great 2006-07 Australian side that humbled them 5-0.
Collingwood well remembers that side, bristling with Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and company. He believes his English teammates can reach the same lofty heights.
‘‘The team that we played against four years ago, they built up an aura over a good 10- to 15-year period. They dominated cricket for a very long time,’’ said Collingwood, who yesterday struck 94 in the South Australian tour match.
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''I think every team gave them a lot of respect because of that, and even before you went out on to the pitch they had this aura about them. And obviously they had the confidence, and they had the arrogance when you got out there, and too right they should have.
‘‘And that’s something we’re trying to build over the next 10 years as well, to create an aura about ourselves. We believe we can get better and better all the time.’’
The cause of all this optimism is England’s recent successes against Australia, having beaten them in all three forms of the game in the past 18 months. They feel the tide is turning, but also the belief in this touring side is genuine, as opposed to the false hope carried by Andrew Flintoff’s hapless 2006-07 crew.
‘‘I think what’s different is that we’ve had 18 months of solid cricket, the belief and confidence we’ve built over that period of time is genuine belief,’’ Collingwood said.
‘‘Another thing that has happened is that we’ve beaten Australia quite a few times in this past year, whether it be in the Ashes last year, in pressurised situations, the one-day series after being hammered by them [6-1] the year before, and the Twenty20 World Cup final. I think you can take a lot of belief out of beating Australia in pressurised situations and those kind of victories.’’
England won the opening game of an Australian tour for the first time since 1965 in Perth last week, and already appear a side extremely comfortable in the foreign surroundings.
Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson dismissed England’s early tour talk as ‘‘cocky’’. ‘‘They’re talking probably a lot more than I noticed before the last series,’’ Johnson said.
‘‘Whether they’re being cocky or not, that’s maybe a confidence thing with them. They’ve been playing well for probably 18 months. Good luck to them, and if they want to throw around a few words, then that’s fine, but we’re just going to focus on our game.’’
England batsman Kevin Pietersen said he was ‘‘on fire’’ following knocks of 58 and 35 not out against Western Australia last week.
‘‘I did hear him say that he was on fire - that was about all I heard,’’ Johnson said. ''But talking about cocky comments … that’s probably one of them. It’s just how Pietersen is - it’s what gets him going.
‘‘But if we go out there and focus on what we need to do … we will win this series - that’s the plan, and do it in front of a home crowd and hopefully put a few of those comments away.’’
Collingwood revealed this Australian team was sledge-shy compared with its predecessors, but the 34-year-old is also wise enough to know that even great teams can lose their way on these pitches and disagreed with England fans who assume this series will be a walkover.