England was a Star Eleven!

It was England in the end! Australia was completely outplayed! “It was as great as the Ashes Victory” echoed the English Skipper Paul Collingwood. The bottom line of all this is, England had finally won something serious and worth in the world stage of cricket after a long wait of 35 years!

If one takes a ride back memory lane the ICC World Cup which was called the “Prudential World Cup” as it was sponsored by Prudential, first took place in 1975 in England and the format was 60 overs.

England were Gilmored in the Semi Final against Australia, when the left arm swing of Garry Gilmore had them bowled out for 93 with the left-armer capturing 6/14 and later on with an innings of thirty plus, he single handedly caused the downfall of England then.

Since that start England were runner up on many occasions but had never really challenged or commenced a tournament as favorites! The 2010 T20 World Cup was no different either! They were ranked but never considered to be a strong enough contender to clinch the title. But what happened was something completely out of the ordinary! It was England which prevailed in the end and not the fancied teams! And what a run they had in the tournament.

True there was a setback being beaten by the West Indies under the Duckworth and Lewis system due to rain, but every other team was brushed aside with the greatest of ease. Honestly in the semi final against Sri Lanka the feeling was a Sri Lankan victory. But what a performance it was? Clinical, professional, ruthless call it what it may. It was all embedded in it.

Then the grand final and a victory by 7 wickets against the old enemy! One could describe it as efficient than anything else! From the time the Aussies lost 3 wickets early thanks to some inspired bowling and fielding, England were always in the ascendance. And the manner they finished off with wickets and overs to spare was more like an un-English feat.

Graeme Swann(2R) along with teammates celebrate the wicket of Australian cricketer Brad Haddin at the T20 final.-AFP

The reason being the English were never thought to be the improvising, innovative or bold types. They were always very conservative in their approach despite the endless amount of limited over cricket they play at home. Their aggressiveness in the past never matched with anything the rest of the world offered and was to a long time at least in the shorter version tournaments the poor relation of cricket.

One also remembered the cruel joke England endured during the decade of the nineties involving match fixing. The story goes that fixers of games had to pay England to win rather than to loose! Loosing was such a habit in English cricket.

But from such a past to suddenly turn around and win a world championship warrants a special performance. Critics may argue that England had discovered the players. They may say that Andy Flower their new coach had a pivotal role to play! There is no doubting in either of those statements. But didn’t England have similar resources in the past too and never did they get anywhere close to such an achievement! In short they could not make an impression as strong as this!

There was no dependency on a few players either. As we all know Kevin Pietersen had to go home to be with his wife for the birth of his first child and that had no cause for concern as England got through the challenge without him!

In such a back drop what was the real secret behind the success of England? No doubt they had the players and the coach and the back up. But to me the real reason was the way they played and appeared to gel as a team.

They were not a team of eleven stars but more like a star eleven! No one individual stole the show and there wasn’t one single game where the majority of the team didn’t contribute. And another factor was, they got through the whole tournament with a minimum number of changes and the only one if my memory serves me right was the enforced change of Bopara replacing Pietersen.

In short it was a team effort!

I also felt that England looked a happy unit and didn’t appear to be perplexed at any time of the tournament and generally had things very much under control. Furthermore one felt that their desire to succeed as a team was immense and the need to make a strong statement about English cricket was another factor which motivated the team to get to the unprecedented height during the T20, 2010.

There were many lessons one could have learned from England in their success. It was not necessarily cricketing lessons.

But basic simple facts! However the strongest and the clearest of it all was “You don’t need to have stars in a team but all you need is to function like a star eleven” it couldn’t have got truer than this.

Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator

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