First and foremost, apologies for the lack of updates throughout this tournament. Unfortunately, it seems that dissertations actually require a fair amount of work and take up a bit of time. I couldn’t resist a break from that tonight though, and felt that this would be a fitting time to share my thoughts on a superb tournament.
Before the World T20, India were favourites. After them, Australia and New Zealand were seen as strong sides, as were South Africa. The West Indies obviously had dangerous players, and Sri Lanka were the holders. Pakistan were playing in familiar conditions, but the general sentiment regarding England’s chances was not particularly optimistic. While many acknowledged their talent, and dubbed them a ‘dangerous’ side, few gave them any chance. What a surprise, then, that Eoin Morgan’s men should come so painfully close to glory.
As for the final itself, few could deny that the West Indies deserved their victory. That said, defeat was especially cruel for England, who gave their all throughout a fantastic game of cricket. Having fought so hard, and resolutely clawed themselves back into the tournament on a number of occasions, they showed a remarkable amount of character to remain in the tournament until its very last over, and did not deserve to lose. Ben Stokes knelt, tears in his eyes, as Brathwaite dispatched a fourth consecutive six back over his head. If any image summed up the effort put in by England over the past three weeks, it was that. Plenty will find it all too easy tonight to criticise the 24-year old all-rounder, stating that his four half-volleys missed the mark, or that he cracked under pressure. Plenty more, however, will argue that Brathwaite simply did something quite remarkable, that is impossible to legislate for. Such small margins can make an enormous amount of difference in cricket. Brathwaite won the game for the West Indies today, Ben Stokes did not lose it for England.
The tournament for England as a whole was enormously successful. They came undone at the start against a sublime performance from Chris Gayle, but followed it up with a remarkable victory over South Africa. Afghanistan proved slightly harder to beat than many might have envisaged, but they came through that and held their nerve against Sri Lanka. New Zealand, it was felt, might have been too strong for England, but the kiwis were brushed aside with a surprising amount of ease. Joe Root was England’s most consistent performer, and should be considered the player of the tournament, as well as the most complete batsman in the world currently. While some would grant Virat Kholi that illustrious title, Root’s performances at key times and his consistency throughout the tournament was a fundamental aspect of England’s success. For the past 18 months, his form in test matches, ODIs and T20s have also been bettered by none. Jos Buttler played his part too, winning England plenty of key moments. Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes came into their own as the tournament progressed, executing their plans at the end of the innings to perfection. David Willey took early wickets, while Roy got the innings of to a few memorable flyers. Undoubtedly, England’s one day side is incredibly exciting, and has the potential to improve even more. The hunger looks to be there, and the talent is abundantly clear too.
While England’s defeat was arguably harsh, all things considered, the West Indies will also feel that their victory was deserved. Crucially, they came through some tough tests without the iconic Chris Gayle. Lendl Simmons stepped up against India, while Marlon Samuels won them the final. Dwayne Bravo, complete with some slick dance moves, performed consistently with the ball, as did Samuel Badree. Darren Sammy has proven himself to be tactically astute, and his character has certainly brought the team closer together. One only need cast an eye over the West Indian semi-final celebrations to appreciate the brand of cricket they play. Smiles are rarely far from the eleven players’ faces, which is a refreshing way to describe a West Indies team who have experienced their fair share of trials and tribulations in recent times. The success of the West Indian team this year has to be regarded as a positive for world cricket, and I doubt many would resent their success.
All in all, a superb tournament for England, and more generally a wonderful advert for cricket in India. Most of the last twenty days or so have seen close games, late drama and sublime individual performances.
Moving forward, England should take heart from this campaign, and use the experience to drive them forward. Well done West Indies, please provide more videos of your dances and frivolities.
Now, I regret to inform you, the dissertation calls. Come May 24th, however, it’ll all be over, and cricket articles will be able to dominate my twitter feed once again. Less than two months, Alex, less than two months.