Alec Stewart gave a ringing endorsement to Paul Collingwood last night as the Durham all-rounder prepared to make his first international appearance on his home ground.

The England veteran was impressed by Collingwood's composed, quickfire 38 on Tuesday as Sri Lanka were beaten by three wickets at Headingley.

It was the 26-year-old's latest eye-catching performance in England colours following a string of impressive displays in Zimbabwe, India and New Zealand over the winter.

Stewart and Collingwood steered England to the verge of victory at Leeds before the Durham man was dismissed just four runs short of the target.

And his innings received the Stewart seal of approval on the eve of the wicketkeeper's 150th one-day appearance for his country - an England record.

Stewart said: "Paul did an extremely good job for the team when he came in to bat.

"I hadn't had that much to do with him in the past but now I know what sort of a player he is and how he goes about his game.

"He's obviously got a cool head on his shoulders and I've been impressed with what I've seen so far.

"It would probably be fair to say that he now feels very comfortable in the England set-up, and that's testament to the system Duncan Fletcher and Nasser Hussain have in place.

"When people come in, they are made to feel that they belong in the team, and I would put Paul Collingwood in that category."

Stewart approaches yet another milestone in his remarkable international career accepting he is still willing and able to learn new tricks at the grand old age of 39.

Stewart will march out with England for the 150th time in a one-day international today knowing he is nearing the end of an incredible career which also includes 118 Tests.

His longevity is testament to a gruelling fitness schedule and producing high-class performances on a consistent basis, not least in the current tournament, when he has overcome the problems of having a floating role in the batting order to score 149 runs in the opening three matches.

Batting at number five in the opening match against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge, Stewart scored a superb 83 and followed that with an unbeaten 28 in the defeat by India at Lord's, coming in at number six.

But his most impressive showing of the tournament was at Headingley on Tuesday, when he batted at number eight with England needing a further 70 runs from ten overs and only four wickets in hand, only to forge a match-winning 66-run partnership with Paul Collingwood which clinched England's three-wicket victory with four balls remaining.

Stewart's brilliant 38 from only 31 balls was the result of a long practice session with coach Duncan Fletcher, who had taken England's most experienced one-day player to one side and taught him how to play down the order after nearly a whole career batting in the top five.

''I'm 39 but I'm still learning,'' revealed Stewart. ''I had a chat with Duncan on the day before the game and he gave me a few tips about batting down the order when the ball is reverse swinging, where to hit the ball and how to hit the ball. He spoke to me about that on Monday and I practiced hard and had two net sessions with Duncan talking me through certain things."