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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

England hungry for Ashes momentum

England star Paul Collingwood believes victory over West Indies in the second Test can give his side vital confidence ahead of the forthcoming Ashes.

The hosts are 1-0 up in the series and meet West Indies at the Riverside in their last Test outing before the first of five matches against Australia.

"It's important that we get the win," Durham all-rounder Collingwood told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"It would be a great confidence booster to go into the Ashes with."

Encouraged by their 10-wicket victory over West Indies at Lord's last week, England are aiming to secure their first Test series victory since beating New Zealand in June 2008.

They will also want to avenge their recent Test series defeat by West Indies in the Caribbean, which saw them humiliated by an innings and 23 runs in Jamaica before being held to three successive draws.

After the Riverside Test, England face the Windies in three one-day internationals and contest the ICC World Twenty20 before the first Test against Australia in Cardiff on 8 July.

"Our last four Test matches have been pretty much exceptional," said Collingwood.

"Out in the West Indies we didn't get the results but we put them under pressure after the Jamaica defeat and we've been very much on the ball since then.

"Hopefully that kind of momentum and winning formula will continue into the Ashes."

Eyebrows have been raised over England's decision to recall Ian Bell to the squad just one Test into the summer, a match which saw Ravi Bopara staring in Bell's number three position with a superb century.

Bell has not featured since being dropped after the Jamaica defeat in February but, having made centuries for the MCC and Warwickshire, his call-up has Collingwood's backing.

"Belly's response since being dropped in West Indies has been absolutely first class," he said.

"He's done everything he has been asked to do - he's put his fitness work in and his attitude has been fantastic. He's been very team orientated and the best thing he's done is he's gone out and scored runs in county cricket and big runs at that.

After returning match figures of 7-102 on his international debut at Lord's, Durham seamer Graham Onions is set to be given another chance to impress, this time on his home ground.

"Coming into international cricket can be a very daunting task with all the media hype and attention, but he seemed to just enjoy the occasion and did what he has done for Durham all season," said Onions' county team-mate Collingwood.

"He gets close to the stumps, bowls good lengths and straight and nips it around a little bit.

"What he did in his first match was exceptional but I think he'll keep his feet on the ground and the players around him will make sure he does as well.

"He's got a great opportunity again this week to prove what he can do in international cricket."

West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul has suffered at the hands of another England bowler, Graeme Swann, only managing to successfully negotiate one ball from the off-spinner in two innings.

Swann dismissed Chanderpaul for a golden duck in the first innings, and then got the same batsman out second ball in the next.

"I have to put it behind me and move forward to the next game," said Chanderpaul.

"He's been bowling well, you can't take anything away from him, we just have to be on our guard."

Swann, 30, is noted for his success against left-handers and with four among the Windies' top six, Chanderpaul accepts they have a problem to solve.

"It puts all our left-handers in the firing line, " he said.

"He's got all of us out so far, so we have to make sure we go out and find a way to deal with it."

But the former world number one batsman is aware of the size of the task his side face at the Riverside.

"We just have to put Lord's behind us, come out here and play as well as we know we can," Chanderpaul said.

"We're one down already, so the only way to save the Wisden Trophy is to win this game. We will have to perform well to do that."

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