An English lesson

On Sunday, Paul Collingwood’s men won England its first major cricket crown in Barbados. On at least two occasions in the past, England came close to winning the One-Day International championship ever since the ICC started the once-in-four-years event in 1975, but ended only second best. That is surprising as the country gave birth to the game that it also dominated for decades. So much so, there have been questions if the game’s popularity in that country would survive the team’s successive failures, year after year and one major tournament after another. Arguably, England has, in recent years, ceased to be a cricketing force to reckon with among the major countries that play the game.

The ICC T20 crown won at Barbados, is therefore, very special to Collingwood’s men. It is so much more so as England has won it by convincingly defeating Australia, their traditional rival. Man-on-man, England were not the favourites to win the Barbados title contest as the Australian side was packed with big hitters who had demonstrated their might in the semi-final battle against Pakistan in St Lucia. Australia had won every single match to book its place in the final. Not that England hadn’t. But only that it had to contend with two rain-hit matches in the preliminary stage, one of which it lost thanks to the Duckworth-Lewis method. Barring Kevin Pietersen, England did not have star cricketers. But as the tournament progressed, the English players produced a string of star performances which helped them do well consistently. That is what Kapil Dev’s men had done when they went on to win the Prudential World Cup title in 1983.
It may be too early to say if the victory helps England to stage a revival. But one lesson from their win is that it is not enough to have big stars to ensure success. India, which won the first ICC T20 title two years ago in South Africa, may have erred in trying to pack the team with stars, regardless of their form and fitness. It is doubtful if Yuvraj Singh would have found a place in the squad on the strength of his recent form. On hindsight, we can only speculate if the Indian or Sri Lankan teams would have performed differently if out-of-form players like Yuvraj and Sanath Jayasuriya were not part of their respective playing eleven in the West Indies.

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