The dust has only just settled on the recent ICC T20 World Cup final, held at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of 100,000 frenzied spectators. In the end, it was England who held their nerve to stave off a late fightback from Pakistan to secure the victory and the trophy, their second white-ball World Cup in three years. And once again, they had Ben Stokes’ heroics to thank.
The reigning 50-over world champions were in a spot of bother at 32/2 following the dismissals of Phil Salt and opener Alex Hales. They were in even more trouble when captain – and perhaps the finest batsman in T20 cricket – Jos Buttler was sent packing. But as he always does, Stokes steadied the ship.
England are getting used to relying on their sensational all-rounder. He steered his country to victory in the 2019 World Cup final at Lord’s, hitting an unbeaten 84 before going on to secure the victory in a super over. Six weeks later, with the Ashes on the line, he smashed 135 not out – including 75 runs in barely an hour – to snag victory away from the jaws of defeat.
And down under, he was up to his old tricks once again. This time he was slogging for the fences though. It was a mature display from the 31-year-old, who bided his time in picking up the runs necessary to ensure an English victory by five wickets. Indeed, things have come full circle for Ben Stokes.
It was the 2016 T20 World Cup final where England’s prize asset endured his darkest hour. He was bowling the final over against the West Indies, who needed 19 runs to win. Instead of what should have been his crowning moment, it was Carlos Brathwaite who stole the limelight and the trophy. He slogged four consecutive sizes, taking the crown to the Caribbean and leaving stokes in a puddle of tears.
In Melbourne, he finally laid that ghost to rest. But England’s challenge very nearly didn’t get off the ground.
A Familiar Thorn on England’s Side
Online bookmakers had made England the favorite to win the tournament prior to it getting underway, and it was easy to see why. They were coming off back-to-back T20 series victories firstly over Pakistan and then against Australia, on enemy territory. And with Jos Buttler, they had the finest player in the world in their ranks. But unfortunately, their tournament couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start.
Their bowling attack helped them to a simple win over Afghanistan in their opening game however, they came unstuck in their second. Ireland have proven to be a thorn in the side of their oldest enemy in recent years. And they were once more on October 26th at the MCG.
With a little assistance from some abject weather conditions, the Boys in Green picked up a famous five-run victory over an out-of-sorts England via the DLS Method. The result left England’s plans in tatters and was a throwback to 11 years ago when the Irish enjoyed their finest hour.
At the 2011 50-over World Cup in India, the Irish picked up a three-wicket victory over England. They chased down a seemingly impossible target of 329 with five balls to spare to secure the greatest victory in the history of Irish cricket.
But as all champions do, England bounced back. Crucial wins against New Zealand and a nerve-jangler against Sri Lanka – with Stokes once again being the hero – would see England through to the final four. And from there, they never looked back.
Adverse Weather Sees Hosts Eliminated
In the end, the tournament in Australia showed cricket at its brilliant best. But at one point, it looked as though the competition would turn into a farce, primarily thanks to some awful weather which saw a total of four matches rained off. The tournament organizers came under huge criticism for scheduling the tournament during the rainy season down under, and it wasn’t just England that would suffer a shock result courtesy of the conditions.
Australia was thumped by New Zealand in their opening game, but England’s shock defeat to Ireland opened the door for the hosts and reigning champions to attempt to retain their trophy. Those hopes were extinguished before they’d even begun. With the rivals set to square off in an all-or-nothing decider, the conditions intervened, and rather than a high-stakes game of cricket taking place, the match was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
As such, the hosts’ 89-run defeat to the Kiwis saw their net run rate tumble, and instead of them reaching the final four, it was instead England who would take their place. The rest, as they say, is history.
About Rivcky John
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