Very few cricketers get to coach their country before their playing careers are over.
That Paul Collingwood did so this spring shows his coaching talents will be much in demand if, as expected, he retires from playing at the end of the season.
Collingwood joked last year captaining Durham was more like being in charge of the academy, so when he led them to the County Championship, the cricket world took notice.
His made his coaching debut as an assistant during Scotland’s World Twenty20 qualifying campaign. Even though they failed, he was promoted to joint head coach for the 50-over equivalent. This time they did not.
Ashley Giles then brought his former international team-mate on board as England’s fielding coach for the World Twenty20.
Presumably a career in coaching is now guaranteed for one of the best cricketers on the planet at eking the maximum from his talent. “Not necessarily,” says Collingwood. “I loved my time with Scotland and qualifying for the World Cup, knowing how much it meant for Scottish cricket. It was as good as winning things when you’re playing.
“It was great being back in the England dressing room. It’s a high-pressurised environment.
“But there’s also a lot of sacrifices you’ve got to make in coaching. These are things you’ve got to weigh up, whether you want to get on the travelling treadmill again.” As well as an honour, it has been an education. “It’s been an interesting six months and one I thoroughly enjoyed,” he reflects.
“It has been an eye-opener because the game has moved on.
“I was watching AB de Villiers in the field for the full 20 overs and couldn’t believe how he moved.
“To watch his fitness levels and his movement was something else.
“Being a fielding coach, I was watching him thinking I wish I could start my career again and model himself on what he does. It’s a different level altogether.” England will soon have a new head coach, who will need a back-up team. What if Collingwood gets the call?
“We’ll have to wait and see,” he says.
“I don’t think they’re going to make a decision on the head coach until the end of April and until then there’s a lot of ifs and buts.
“If they needed me to come on board now I’d find it very hard to leave Durham in the situation they’re in.”