Consistency, the key to England’s triumph

18 May 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in T20 World Cup 2010

Kevin Petersen and Paul Collingwood with the trophyThe result surprised many, but none can deny that England deserved to emerge triumphant. This year’s tournament has emphasized that, like in the other two versions of cricket, consistency has a major part to play. True, luck is a big factor as well in T20 – how else can one explain Pakistan making it to the semis on the basis of one decent performance in the Super Eights?

However, the bottom line was that the two most consistent sides made it into the grand finals, and the team which was better on the day eventually won, and rather handsomely at that.

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As everyone is aware by now, this was England’s maiden triumph in an ICC final. Prior to this, they made it to three 50-over World Cup finals and the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy summit clash, where they eventually went down to West Indies. This time, however, they were determined to set the record straight, and went about their task in a highly impressive professional manner.

For England to clinch the World Cup, a hell of a lot had to go right. After all, they were nowhere near in contention for the title compared to favourites Australia, India and, to an extent, Sri Lanka. Also, apart from Kevin Pietersen, they did not have a star name, who could be termed as a potential match-winner, at least at the start of the tournament. But, it all turned around for England, and how.

Among the major contributors to the win was undoubtedly the man himself, and now daddy, Pietersen. It was his aggression at the start of the series that set things off on a positive note, and the Englishmen never looked back from there. Often in the past, Pietersen has been guilty of getting only half the job done, and at most other side, has run out of support.

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However, during the course of the last two weeks, both of these follies were rectified. If it was Craig Kieswetter who took most of the pressure off Pietersen in the finals, earlier in the tournament, the likes of Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan and the rest also came good.

This was the difference between England and some of the other teams. Sri Lanka had Mahela Jayawardene, India had Suresh Raina and Pakistan had Salman Butt, who were among the top-run getters in the series, yet their teams could not make it all th way.

In contrast, the strong back up he received allowed Pietersen to play freely, which is when he is at his best, and most dangerous. Still, one cannot to take anything away from the tall lad, who batted that number three for England during this World Cup, as he was at his mature best.

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It wasn’t enough just for the batsmen to click though. The bowlers also needed to chip in. They did a lot more than that. Most importantly, they were positive as opposed to some other sides. Ryan Sidebottom was lethal at the start with his accurate swingers and deadly at the end overs, with his nagging yorkers, a combination that strangled most batsmen.

Everyone from Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan to Michael Yardy made a noteworthy contribution. But the performance that stood out was that of off-spinner Graeme Swann’s. As seen in the IPL, the tweakers have a significant role to play in the T20 format. And Swann’s showing in this World Cup adds further credence to the theory.

Instead of looking to contain the runs, (hope Harbhajan Singh was watching) Swann was prepared to toss the ball and invite what could have been a lot of trouble in the form of runs. Instead, the confidence-personified Swann defeated most batsmen, in the air as well as in the mind.

As the result, the runs were also kept down to a premium. Swann’s striking efforts only reiterates that, irrespective of the form of the game, attack in the best form of defence.

His performance with the bat notwithstanding, skipper Paul Collingwood also enacted his role as a leader of the side as per the demands of the script. He was inspirational in the field, pulling off some spectacular catches at key moments, and rarely let the heads drop in the field.

Never in the recent past has an English side so effervescent on a cricket field, and it wouldn’t be unfair to grant an acknowledgement to the captain of the ship for making it happen.

It is too early to predict whether this win will open a fresh chapter in English cricket. But, for the moment at least, they have proved to one and all, who are the kings of T20.

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