England have bolstered their specialist coaching staff for the Test and limited-overs series against Pakistan and the World T20, with the appointments of Mahela Jayawardene and Paul Collingwood.
Jayawardene, who ESPNcricinfo revealed had been in discussions with the ECB during this season, will work with the Test side during the warm-up period in the UAE and the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi which starts on October 13. He will resume his close ties with England head coach Trevor Bayliss and assistant Paul Farbrace after their days together with Sri Lanka.
Collingwood, the former England limited-overs captain, who played 197 ODIs and 35 T20s alongside his 68 Tests, will then work with the limited-overs set-up during the one-day and T20 series against Pakistan, and then at the World T20 in India next year.
One of Jayawardene’s tasks will be to pass on his knowledge of playing spin after the problems England had during the 2012 series against Pakistan in the UAE. England only crossed 300 once in six innings and were bowled out for 72 in Abu Dhabi chasing 145.
Even away from subcontinental-type conditions, England have often struggled against spin. In the recent Ashes, Nathan Lyon collected 16 wickets at 28.25 while they also floundered against New Zealand at Headingley, where Mark Craig and Kane Williamson shared six second-innings wickets, and against West Indies in Barbados.
In 2012, England’s struggles came against Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman – the pair sharing 43 wickets in the three Tests – but they are no longer part of the Pakistan Test side and instead the challenges will be posed by legspinner Yasir Shah, who has 61 wickets in 10 Tests and was the fastest Pakistan bowler to 50 Test wickets, and left-armer Zulfiqar Babar.
Andrew Strauss, the England director of cricket, said: “We are delighted that Mahela and Paul will be joining the England management team, supporting our existing specialist coaches in this area. Both will bring a vast wealth of cricketing knowledge and expertise to the team, and in Mahela’s case, extensive experience of batting in the sub-continent which will be invaluable as part of our wider preparations for the UAE tour.”
In 2014, Collingwood was the assistant coach for the limited-overs tour of West Indies. Collingwood also worked alongside Ashley Giles during the World T20 in Bangladesh, but Giles soon lost his job after a defeat in the tournament to Netherlands.
Collingwood was then assistant coach with Scotland during the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year. Shortly after Strauss was named director of England cricket, Collingwood said it would be very difficult to turn down an offer to work with the team.
“I love England, England is my passion. The experience of playing for England for so many years, that’s where you feel you belong, in that dressing room wearing the three lions,” he said. “You’re never guaranteed a job when you come out of cricket but if there was a role they wanted us to play somewhere it would be hard to turn down.”
But Collingwood will continue to combine coaching with his playing career for at least another year after he recently signed a one-year extension with Durham.
“I’ve always said I want to carry on playing as long as I possibly can while I am still enjoying it and worthy of a place in the team,” he told the Chronicle. “I’m absolutely delighted to have signed another contract and I want to carry on improving this wonderful club on the pitch. I feel I have still got a lot to offer and I’m going to do all I can to keep playing as long as possible.”