Pietersen Gets Dream Birthday Present As Collingwood Faces Nightmare

Sean DeanContributor IJune 27, 2008

Paul Collingwood has been banned for the four of England's limited over matches for England's slow over rate against New Zealand on Wednesday at the Oval. He is set to miss the final match against New Zealand and those against Scotland and a Twenty20 and a 50 over match against South Africa.

This could not have come at a worse time for Collingwood, personally as he faces question marks over his place in the test side, as well as the more serious error of judgement on Wednesday, where he refused to withdraw his appeal after Grant Elliot was run out after colliding with Ryan Sidebottom. For this critics have called into question why Collingwood didn't think more of the "Spirit of Cricket", at the time and has only escaped further criticism for apologising afterwards.

Further more, this act of opportunism was all in vain, as England managed to lose the match after an overthrow of the last ball, meaning England can only tie the series by beating New Zealand at Lord's, on Saturday. This series has further highlighted the inconsistency of this England side, under Collingwood, winning as many series as they have lost.

Kevin Pietersen, who turned 28 on Friday, has been named as captain in place of Collingwood for the four matches he will miss. South African born Pietersen, who described the captaincy as,"The best birthday present ever" and that he was "Humbled", has "Zilch" experience as a captain, promised to act on instinct. This will lead to the tantalising sight of Pietersen leading his team out against the country of his birthplace, South Africa.

If Pietersen's instincts as captain are half as good as his batting instincts, then he can do a great job for England and heap the pressure on Collingwood and potentially leave the ECB with a dilemma as to whether to install Pietersen as the permanent limited overs captain.

South Africa, who have just arrived in England for their tour, are bullish about their chances of success, after watching England's 2-0 test series win over New Zealand, with their coach Mickey Arthur confident that they can not only get the runs on the board, but also take 20 wickets. South Africa Captain, Graeme Smith, whilst empathising with Collingwood over the run out debate, couldn't resist hinting whether he should consider stepping down as captain.

Andrew Flintoff stepped his return to the England side, with an impressive 4-12 with the ball, in Lancashire's rain hit Twenty20 match with Durham. Flintoff had Dale Benkenstein caught with his first ball, then bowled South African pair Albie Morkel and Shaun Pollock and finally had Liam Plunkett caught off a full toss.