Collingwood to miss England practice

Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 22:02 [IST]
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England captain Paul Collingwood will miss his side's practice session here Wednesday at Old Trafford because of a virus, a statement released by the England and Wales Cricket Board said.

However, the statement added the all-rounder was expected to be fit to play in Thursday's fourth one-day international against India at Old Trafford.

England have a 2-1 lead in the series, following Monday's 42-run victory at Edgbaston.

In all, they have won three out of their six one-day internationals since Collingwood replaced Michael Vaughan, still leading the Test team, as England's captain in limited overs matches for July's home series with the West Indies.

England failed to reach the World Cup semi-finals in the Caribbean under Vaughan's leadership earlier this year.

Collingwood's anticipated recovery would spare the selectors a decision over who should be stand-in captain in his absence, with Vaughan not a member of the squad for this series.

Andrew Flintoff, who is expected to be fit again following the knee injury which kept him out of the Edgbaston victory, indicated after practice he would lead the side if Collingwood had to leave the field, provided his own fitness held up.

"I'm fully expecting, and the lads are, Paul turning up tomorrow, tossing the coin and leading the side," Flintoff told reporters.

"At this stage it is not an issue. I'm just concentrating on me turning up tomorrow, do what I need to this afternoon treatment-wise and turning up with a good knee and playing.

"He (Collingwood) has said if he has to go off for a wee or whatever then I will take over. But after that, there's nothing that's really been discussed and, as I say, we are expecting Paul to play."

Flintoff would be an obvious choice having captained England during Test series in India and Australia, where he also led the team to a surprise one-day series win shortly before the World Cup.

However, the all-rounder - who if he takes the field Thursday will be appearing in front of his Lancashire home crowd - blotted his copybook in the Caribbean with his drink-fuelled pedalo escapade which saw him stripped of the England vice-captaincy.

Kevin Pietersen is another captaincy candidate if Flintoff is ruled out.

The South Africa-born batsman has played an increasingly active role when England have been in the field this season and told reporters on Tuesday: "I just try to help out as much as I can. Colly likes the help.

"With him being involved so much in the game, he talks to me a lot and asks for my opinions.

"Basically we just get together and sort a few things out like bowling changes and fielding positions. We read off a similar script so it's nice - we chuck things at each other.

"I wouldn't say I'm vice-captain or anything like that but we do spend quite a lot of time talking and we get on really well."

England will assess Flintoff's condition during Wednesday's practice session and also give a fitness test to fellow all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas, ruled out at Edgbaston after injuring his right hand during the warm-up.

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