PAUL Collingwood: “Usually you don’t get these kind of things until you’ve either died or retired. I hope it’s not a sign of them wanting me out!’’

CRICKETERS and sportsmen come and go. Some are instantly forgettable, others make a lasting impression. But in the current day arena of three formats, loan signings and elongated calendars, loyalty is becoming a short-term thing.

Paul Collingwood made his debut for Durham in 1996. He’s still the mainstay of the side now.

As Sir Ian Botham said: “Any sportsman who gives 23 years of his life to a club and is still probably the fittest man in the dressing room deserves all the accolades he gets.’’

Botham, Durham’s chairman, was speaking at Emirates Riverside as he performed ceremonial duties, as the South West Terrace was renamed the Paul Collingwood Pavilion.

Collingwood is in good company at his home ground, his name adorns the stand adjacent to the Don Robson Pavilion.

Two stalwarts of recognised by the club for their honesty, endeavour and efforts. Robson the driving force off the field in Durham becoming a first-class county, Collinwood the glue which holds the first team together on the pitch.

“I guess it proves that the loyalty and dedication that I’ve given to the club has been rewarded and it is in a really nice way,’’ reflected the all-rounder who turns 42 today.

“I’d never dreamt of anything like this when I started out as a cricketer.

“But I’m really happy for my parents, too, the time and effort they put in. That’s the part that people don’t see when you are a youngster and that is truly hard and a huge part of it.

“Taking you around the country, borrowing cars to actually get to coaching courses down south and what have you.

“I know they’re delighted and very proud to have the name on a stand so I’m pleased for them.

“I’m excited to have my kids here as well, up until about a year ago I don’t think they realised what it was I did for a living!’’

Former England colleague Jimmy Anderson has a stand named in his honour at Old Trafford and Collingwood added: “Playing here in the future won’t put any extra pressure on me. It’s a proud thing for myself and my family.

“I know my mam and dad are very proud and I really do think it’s a nice touch, but won’t be me under any more pressure than I have put myself under for the last 23 years.

“Cricket is changing and players move on – loyalty is dying out of the game and the introduction of T20 cricket a decade ago and franchises coming up means it’s a lot easier to move into different dressing rooms than it was in the past and it’s a lot more acceptable now.

“Guys will move on and explore the game a lot more, but there will be guys around different counties who are proud of where they are from and want to give something back, so I’m sure I won’t be the last out there to stay with one county – cricket is a very special game and I’m sure guys in the future will have long careers and come away with their names on stands.’’

Collingwood has long led by example. Professionalism is his middle name. Never the most flamboyant player, he plays without ego and fuss. As far as role models go, they don’t come much better.

“If I give any small inspiration to a child to play cricket, then fantastic,’’ he reflected.

“I guess this is the whole reason why Durham became a first class county in the first place.

“To have that model youngster come through up through the ranks, stay loyal to the county and play for England. Scoring that Test hundred here, it all kind of written in stone, a fairy tale ride.

“Again to have your name on a stand gives you that added pride. If any youngster out there is thinking, ‘Can I do it?’ Then this shows pretty much that you can.

“The club has fantastic facilities and huge ambitions and hopefully there’s more to come in the future.’’

Collinwood has appeared a record 197 times for England in one-day games. His Test career ended in 2011, coming after the third time he won the Ashes. When his international days came to a close two months later, there was a big decision to be had.

Few players, particularly after such a lavish international occupation, return to the county game. Even less with the longevity and impact of Collingwood.

“When I played for England in all three formats, I had to put everything into that and it was very hard to give back to the county,’’ he admitted.

“Once you come out of England you can either say that’s it, I’m done completely with cricket or you can give back to the county game.

“Durham have given everything from a youngster, to let me develop, learn my trade and live my dreams really, so once I decided to continue I really wanted to get my teeth into and play for a fantastic county.

“I’m very proud to be from the North-East, I love the club and it’s important to continue and give back.

“I’ve enjoyed my career, it’s a bit surreal, turning up to play against Yorkshire in a big game, you have to pinch yourself really. I’m privileged really to play cricket for a job and enjoy my job day in, day out.

“Toi have a stand with my name on, which is going to be here forever is ridiculously surreal.

“I’m a lad from Shotley Bridge, I went to Blackfyne Comprehensive School and all of a sudden at an international ground there’s a stand with my name on.

“You have to pinch yourself at times.’’

He added: “When I was finished with England and international cricket I was wavering. When you come out of the intensity of international cricket, you want to make sure you don’t let yourself or the club down by going through the motions.

“It was a decision to make at the time, but I have really enjoyed my time as a cricketer after my international career.

“We have developed some great youngsters along the way and hope there’s more to come.’’

You are just as likely to find Collingwood at his home club in midweek as you are at Emirates Riverside. Shotley Bridge is part of the Collingwood family heritage.

His three daughters were at Emirates Riverside last Friday for the ceremony.

At a time when the ECB are looking at ways of attracting new interest in the game, various grand plans are being announced.

The game’s leaders are demanding change. Collingwood gives a cautious welcome to the new plans which are being rolled out.

He admitted: “The game is changing, we have seen T20 develop and now there’s plans for a new competition.

“IF anything is marketed well – and it’s been proved around the world – then anything can work. T20 is working around the world and will continue working because people keep turning up for it.

“The new competition – is it going to be bigger and better? We will wait and see. If T20 is marketed well in England it would bring the crowds in, bring a new audience in.

“This could bring a new audience in, and it’s all down to marketing. Players will be happy to play whatever they need to play as long as it’s entertaining and not putting their bodies through anything ridiculous.

“I would sometimes question where they get the figures from when they say the younger generation isn’t interested in cricket.

“I turned up one night last week at Shotley Bridge Cricket Club and there was 120 kids down there at six o’clock – very much enjoying the game and ranging from six years old to 16-17. Take that survey across the North-East and to Shotley Bridge and maybe it would not be completely accurate.

“Three in every 100 kids know about cricket? But they have been out there and done their surveys so you have to take their word for it.’’