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Is the World Twenty20 equivalent to the Carling Cup?

In the end, despite a slight hiccup in losing Kevin Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter in consecutive overs within sight of the finish, it had been a victory every bit as straightforward as the scorecard would suggest. England had beaten Australia by seven wickets and with 18 balls to spare to win the World Twenty20 final.

It was, at the fifth attempt, the first time the England men’s cricket team had won any form of world final. (By contrast, the women’s team is currently the best in the world, although they failed to make the final of the women’s competition, which had been running in parallel to the men’s event.) And it was all the more sweet because it came at the expense of their oldest and most bitter rivals.

England have now won as many world finals in cricket as they have in its other major sports, football and rugby union. So why did this triumph create barely a ripple on Monday morning?

If my workplace was typical, many people were aware of the victory, but hardly anyone genuinely excited by it. Certainly, it had not whipped up anything like the national fervour witnessed after the 2005 and 2009 Ashes series triumphs, or when Jonny Wilkinson kicked that drop goal in Sydney’s Telstra Stadium to win the Rugby Union World Cup in 2003.

After that latter final which, because of the time difference, occurred at breakfast time on a Sunday morning in the UK, I can vividly remember strolling along the high street in Marlow, seeing many people in England rugby jerseys, and being part of a communal buzz that only comes when a major experience is shared by an overwhelming majority of people.

By comparison, the lack of buzz after Sunday’s Twenty20 triumph meant it felt more like winning the Carling Cup when you really wanted to win the Champions League. Yes, it’s a trophy, but it feels more like a consolation prize than anything. For England cricket fans, the Ashes probably means more than anything (particularly in an era where Australia have been at or near the top of the world rankings for the best part of 20 years), followed by the World Cup, with the Twenty20 coming in a distant third.

Which is a shame, really, because England were deserved winners, having showed real strength in depth with both bat and ball. Pietersen averaged 62 with the bat, second behind only Mike Hussey among the Super 8 teams, and Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright all averaged 30 or more, a strong benchmark in this form of the game. Graeme Swann and Ryan Sidebottom were among only eight bowlers to take at least ten wickets, with Swann’s coming at an average of just 14.4.

And when it really mattered in the final against the unbeaten Aussies, England’s attack reduced them to 8/3 in the third over, a miserly 47/4 at the mid-point of their innings, and just 147/6 overall. It was a total which always looked at least 15-20 runs short of being a genuinely defensible total, and despite the early loss of Michael Lumb, Pietersen and Kieswetter were always in control of the run chase, amassing 111 in 68 balls to ease their teammates into position apply the finishing touches.

England dominated Australia in every practically phase of the match. How often do you get to say that?

Yes, it may only have been cricket’s equivalent of the Carling Cup that England won on Sunday evening. But it was still a world final. And that is surely something worth celebrating.

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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