Few people know England cricket better than Paul Collingwood.
The popular former limited-overs skipper is the ideal man to replace Trevor Bayliss immediately and become the new T20I coach.
The Australian has made it clear he is not fussed about leading England forward in the format, admitting he would do away with 20-over international contests if he had the chance. Bayliss’s coaching contract across all three formats lasts until the conclusion of the 2019 Ashes series but he has sped up his exit from one third of that quota.
It leaves Collingwood – a man well-respected within the England ranks and a key member of the backroom staff since 2015 – in the reckoning to get the position full-time.
ECB chief Andrew Strauss of course knows the 41-year-old very well from their playing days together and now would be a great time to shoehorn him in, giving Colly room to also complete what would probably be a final season in county cricket with Durham.
The next World Cup is well over two years away and with a man in charge who actually sees the format as a priority, it’s a wise time to make the change and get early building blocks in place.
The advantage of Collingwood stepping up is that he is well-liked by current players and is one of them, if you like, given he stills pads up himself, adding to the fact his decade-long career in England’s middle order commands respect.
A gun-fielder in his pomp, Collingwood made the most of his not-so-easy on the eye batting ability and bowling variables to become one of the leading lights in an England side that were slow to initially take up the format. However, that changed hugely when he captained his men to World Cup glory in the Caribbean back in 2010.
It’s undoubtedly a different role, going from the specialty of a fielding coach and limited-overs consulting specialist into the chief leader position, but he should be given an opportunity.
Split coaching could help England get back on track in a T20 format where they’ve lost the way and free up someone like Paul Farbrace to be groomed into the successor for Bayliss at Test and ODI level.
It’s a pattern we’re seeing more and more, with Daniel Vettori last year leading Middlesex’s T20 offering while John Wright did the same at Derbyshire in the NatWest Blast.
Cricket is a sport where relationships and familiarity with the team or board are paramount, so Collingwood ticks all the boxes to be promoted within rather than jettison an outsider from the cold.
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