You can probably gauge the worth of Paul Collingwood from that time he was an umpire

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Paul Collingwood excelled at all those aspects of cricket which are undervalued; all the ones that are hard to measure; stuff like fielding and unearthing singles that have no right to be taken.

Because of this, he was one of our heroes when he retired from international cricket and he’s not exactly dropped in our estimation since then, playing on for Durham through thick and thin and thinner and thinner still. Now he’s retiring completely.

We’ve nothing left to say about Colly’s cricket. We instead want to quickly talk about a photo that has gnawed away at us ever since it was taken back in 2016. There is something about the scene that is so perfect it almost brings us to tears.

After playing a game against Lancashire at Southport and Birkdale CC,  Collingwood’s Durham stayed behind for a bit and played a knockabout game with a tennis ball with a few kids on the outfield. Colly was umpire.

The players had a few beers, the wicket was a chair, the kids got Ben Stokes out and the whole thing took place on the kind of long summer evening you can only ever really get in the UK.

It is, to our eyes, idyllic, and it will have meant THE WORLD to the kids involved. “It was quite difficult to get them to sleep that night,” one of the boys’ dads told the Southport Visiter at the time.

We don’t think it’s a coincidence that Paul Collingwood was involved in this and while we can’t really put what that means into words, in many ways it seems to sum up the man so we’re just going to leave it at that.


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  1. Wonderful image.

    Durham had just won a cracker of a first class match at Southport that day:

    …outground cricket is so under-rated.

    My only personal interaction with Colly was rather different in tone and only a few weeks after that cracking image and is still sitting on King Cricket’s pile of yet unpublished match reports. #justsayin’

    Missing Colly already – I know what you mean KC.

    1. Ouch. That scorecard hurts.

      Stoneman. Jennings. Borthwick. Coughlin. Onions. What the heck’s happened to Burnham? And now Colly.

      There were signs that age was finally catching up with him, runs-wise, but God did he hold together this faltering Durham side.

      I hope to goodness he stays involved. If he becomes the Durham fielding coach he’ll probably save them forty runs an innings. Meaning that they’ll only concede first-innings leads of 160 runs.

  2. Paul Collingwood, Marcus Trescothick, Mark Butcher, Graham Thorpe, Alastair Cook, isn’t it? Matthew Hoggard, Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Ashley Giles, Jimmy Anderson, mmm?

    Reassuring names, aren’t they, when you’re listening in some far flung corner of the British motorway system to TMS of a bank holiday afternoon, 198 longwave, crackly reception, interference, stuck in a traffic jam, windows down, marvellous. Soul limbo. Da-da-da-da-daaah-da-da-da, do-do-do-doo. Somehow comforting, isn’t it you know. Legendary names … CMJ!

    We’ve all come a long way from small boys in the park, chairs for wickets. Enduring image, isn’t it?

    1. Funnily enough, Daisy and I heard the end of the LW broadcast on Sunday evening, while driving to the Wigmore Hall.

      Daisy’s remark on hearing Soul Limbo, said in disparaging tones, “are they really still using that old Booker T tune after all these years? ”

      “Yes, Daisy, and live musicians are still performing Caldara and Vivaldi after all those years – that’s what we’re going to hear at the Wigmore Hall.”

      1. Marvellous! I can’t get used to the digital radio, it has not taken the mantle of longwave with aplomb. Sure as eggs is eggs, it doesn’t crackle enough, mmm? What is radio anyway, really?

  3. One of your best your maj. Essence of decency and what the game is all about.
    Collingwood summed up beautifully here. It’s why I read this website – hitting the right notes is worth far more than lavish prose…

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