PAUL COLLINGWOOD will take charge of England’s Test tour of the West Indies in March after being installed as interim head coach.

The removal of Chris Silverwood after the 4-0 Ashes thrashing, followed by that of assistant coach Graham Thorpe, left former Durham all-rounder Collingwood as the highest ranked member of the backroom team left standing.

Having led the recent Twenty20 series in the Caribbean, which England lost 3-2, the 45-year-old has been chosen by acting director of cricket Sir Andrew Strauss for the Tests in Antigua, Barbados and Grenada instead of bringing an outside voice into the set-up.

Surrey’s vastly experienced team director Alec Stewart had been heavily touted as a short-term option but the temporary appointment has been kept in-house for now.

Whether Collingwood is seen as a viable permanent successor to Silverwood remains to be seen, but as a former England captain in white-ball cricket and a highly-rated coach in his own right the next few weeks could present an opportunity for him to make his case as the leading homegrown candidate.

The last time an interim coach took the reins for a series in the West Indies, Andy Flower in 2009 following the sacking of Peter Moores, he went on to land the job permanently and enjoyed huge success in taking the Test side to number one in the world. Strauss was captain of Flower’s side and counted Collingwood as a trusted team-mate.

The former Durham player is already in the West Indies, having stayed on for a break, and will join the team in Antigua when they arrive on February 25.

The squad, which is likely to contain a couple of new faces alongside the majority of the side that nosedived in Australia, is set to be named today.

Collingwood said: “I am genuinely excited to be leading the Test team for the tour of the Caribbean. I can’t wait to get started.

“Having a challenging Test series against the West Indies straight off the back of the Ashes disappointment gives us a chance from now to reset and rebuild.

“Playing Test matches for England is the highest accolade in the game. My objective is to give players clarity, direction and encouragement for them to start building something special.”

England’s red-ball side has been on the slide for the last 12 months and with one win in the last 14 Tests, they are in the midst of a dire slump in results.

Collingwood must now begin the job of halting that sequence.

“I have spoken to Joe Root and Ben Stokes (captain and vice-captain), and both are excited and passionate to take the team forward in this new cycle,” he said.

“Although they know it won’t be easy, they have the desire and bravery to do things differently to ensure the team can prosper. We have an opportunity to get back on track.”

Collingwood will need a new support team in place, with Richard Dawson a possible asset following his work with the England Under-19s and Lions.

Meanwhile, former England opening batter Sam Robson has continued his long association with Middlesex by signing a contract extension.

The 32-year-old will now remain at Lord’s, where he has played for 14 years, until at least the end of the 2024 season.

Predominantly a four-day player at Middlesex, Robson has registered 10,082 first-class runs in 161 appearances, scoring 22 centuries.

Robson, who played seven Tests for England in 2014, said: “I am delighted to have re-signed with Middlesex.

"I signed with the club as an 18-year-old and have thoroughly enjoyed calling Lord’s my home."