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PAUL COLLINGWOOD is desperate to shed his status as the only man to lead England to glory on the world stage and can think of nobody better to share the honour than Eoin Morgan.
Morgan will captain England in their first World Cup final since 1992 against New Zealand on Sunday, hoping to end the country’s 44-year pursuit of the game’s biggest prize in front of a sold-out Lord’s and the first traditional terrestrial television audience in 14 years.
Collingwood will be cheering him on from the pavilion in his role as assistant coach to Trevor Bayliss, but in 2010 he was the one breaking new ground by skippering England’s triumphant World Twenty20 campaign in the Caribbean.
Now, nine years later, he is ready to share his place in the history books with a man who has underpinned the journey from also-rans in 2015 to red-hot favourites this weekend.
“I don’t want to have that tag, I don’t want to be the only England captain to do it,” he said.
“There’d be no greater feeling for me than to see Eoin with that trophy. Nobody deserves it more. I’m desperate to see him to lift it because what he has done for this team is remarkable. It would be a perfect ending to this journey.
“Eoin has done a fantastic job and not just in these past four years, he revolutionised our whole approach with his attitude, how you go about playing the game.
“His legacy will last for a lot longer than this World Cup. We’re the benchmark now and that approach and that legacy will go on.”
Collingwood describes the opportunity in front of the squad as “a perfect storm,” with home soil advantage, the pageantry of a Lord’s final and Sky’s decision to share broadcast rights with Channel 4 on a free-to-air basis coming together to whip up the sense of occasion.
As someone who was involved in the final Test of the 2005 Ashes, a series that gripped the entire nation and made crossover stars of its participants, he knows how transformative such moments can be for the sport.
“These lads have grabbed the imagination of the public, particularly with the tournament on home soil,” he said.
“I’m not taking anything away from what our team achieved in Barbados, but the enormity of a World Cup final at the home of cricket, with a game on free to air, it’s almost a perfect storm.
“They are seriously talented cricketers and all you want for them is a chance. Now they have that chance to win a World Cup. I guess we’re in our bubble but come Sunday, if we get over the line, we’ll probably start to realise what it means to the public and what it’s meant to cricket fans in this country.
“Hopefully we can inspire people. Everyone is talking about it and it has got a similar feeling to 2005.”
Should England finish the job on Sunday it will mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but for Collingwood it represents the chance to fill a rare blank from a long and distinguished playing career that saw him earn more than 300 international caps.
“I’ve got no problem saying in our era we never got close to a 50-over World Cup,” he said.
“I wouldn’t call it a regret, but I’d have loved to get my hands on that one. It would have finished things off after winning the Ashes and the World T20 and being No 1 Test team in the world.
“That one eluded me as a player, but I’d love to be involved as a coach. I’ll be there, biting my nails in the dressing room, I’m there for them if they want to chat, but the truth is we don’t need to approach this game any differently to the last four years.”
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