Strauss backs out-of-form Collingwood

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Melbourne, Jan 17 (AFP) England captain Andrew Straussinsists Paul Collingwood is still a vital part of his team''sWorld Cup plans after he was dropped for Sunday''s one-dayinternational against Australia.

Collingwood, for so long a permanent fixture for Englandin all three forms of the game, was an onlooker as thetourists suffered a six-wicket defeat, despite posting 294,their highest ever total against Australia in Australia.

The 34-year-old retired from Test cricket afterstruggling with the bat in England''s 3-1 Ashes victory.

He captained England in their two subsequent Twenty20clashes with Australia, but again failed to impress with thebat, and was dropped for Sunday''s game.

Strauss said Collingwood was still central to England''sthoughts at the World Cup, which starts next month, and thatthe move was aimed at giving the player a chance to releasesome of the pressure he has faced all tour.

"It is a bit of a form thing," Strauss said. "We feelthat he''s been struggling with the bat for a while now.

"The best way for him to come back is to spend a bit oftime out of the side and refresh his mind.

"He''s still obviously a very important part of ourone-day set-up and will be going forward to the World Cup.

"Sometimes you need a clear mind, and you don''t want tobe thinking too much about the dismissals you''ve had recently.

You just want to be able to go out and see the ball and hitthe ball."

Strauss said Sunday''s result at the MCG would have noimpact on selection of the World Cup squad and thatCollingwood, a veteran of 189 one-day internationals, stillhad plenty to offer in ODIs.

He conceded his side had probably missed Collingwood''scanny medium-pacers during Australia''s Shane Watson-inspiredrun chase.

"He is a very handy bowler in most conditions and we didmiss that," he said.

"The decision for him to spend some time out of the sidewas based on his batting and that is his primary role." (AFP)AT

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