LONDON:Paul Collingwood believes former England captain Nasser Hussain has missed the point in labelling the current squad as "soft" ahead of the tour of New Zealand.
Hussain has been worried by the dip in England's Test form since they won the Ashes in 2005 and reckons the side needs to be mentally more resilient if they are to defeat Australia in next year's edition.
But England, after a lacklustre World Cup where they failed to reach the semi-finals, have recently enjoyed series wins under skipper Collingwood away to India and Sri Lanka in the shorter form of the game.
The Test match picture is less encouraging.
England have won just two of their eight Test series since their Ashes triumph two years ago, a run that includes a 5-0 thrashing in Australia, a defeat at home to India last year and the 1-0 reverse in Sri Lanka during the first half of their current (northern hemisphere) winter tour programme.
Nevertheless Durham all-rounder Collingwood, speaking ahead of the limited overs' squad departure for two Twenty20 and five one-day internationals in New Zealand can answer Hussain's criticisms.
"We don't believe we are soft," said Collingwood.
"We were disappointed with how we played in Sri Lanka this winter but it wasn't because we are soft. Hopefully we can go out to New Zealand and prove it."
Meanwhile Collingwood, an outstanding fielder in the key one-day position of backward point, is taking heart from England's improved displays in the white-ball game.
"We've been a dangerous side in the past but it comes down to consistency. That's what we're looking for now - to get a consistent side together and know our games, roles and go out and perform with the right approach.
"Hopefully we're starting to get the right formula."
England's new chief selector Geoff Miller, the former international off-spinner, has made it clear he would prefer one captain to lead the country in all forms of the game rather than have duties shared between Collingwood and Test leader Michael Vaughan.
"He said in an 'ideal world' and it's not an ideal world at the moment," said Collingwood.
"From the start I've always said that 'Vaughany' and I have a good relationship. We realise that this can work well and as long as we are trying to take both teams and English cricket in the right direction, it can work. It's as simple as that.
"Of course I've developed, it comes down to experience. Obviously I didn't have much experience coming into the captaincy and the more you play and captain, you get better ideas of how to go about things.
"The last two (one-day) series have been a nice feeling but we realise we have so far to go - our real aim is to win a trophy which we haven't done before," added Collingwood, a veteran of 136 one-dayers and 30 Tests.
The likes of former selection chief David Graveney have identified the Test series in New Zealand, which follows the limited overs series in March, as the time for England to start regaining form in the five-day format.
"As long as the players are improving and we are improving our approach and getting a winning formula, it's not the be all and end all," said Collingwood.
"We don't go out there and put pressure on ourselves to say 'if we don't win it is the end of English cricket'. We go out there and believe in ourselves and we believe we can win."