Never Get Your Hopes Up

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Three hours to almost win it. One minute to lose it. I’m not sure I can believe what I just saw. What looked like it was going to be a glorious night for English cricket suddenly turned into an all too familiar kick in the crotch. I suppose we should’ve guessed.

I’m not going to get into the finer points of the game. I bet most of you saw it anyway. I guess the best synopsis is this: the West Indies dominated the first half hour of the contest and the last five minutes. England did really well for the rest of the match, except for their mini collapse when Root and Moeen fell in quick succession.

Sport can be such a cruel game. England had no luck for the entire evening. They lost the toss of course, but more importantly every time we hit the ball in the air it landed in a fielder’s breadbasket. It was almost uncanny. Every edge, every slight miscue was punished; we got away with nothing. In the end we did extremely well to crawl our way up to 155.

Obviously we needed early wickets to defend that kind of total and the bowlers duly delivered. I can’t really criticise any of them. We bowled heroically and deserved better. Unfortunately however, sport isn’t that simple. Poor Ben Stokes bowled a subpar last over and that was that. Hats off to Brathwaite for some sensational hitting.

If only – if bloody only – that edge from Samuels to Buttler off Plunkett had carried another inch. Had the catch been given then I think England would’ve won. Talk about small margins. Instead Samuels survived to live another day. He played magnificently and kept his team in the contest.

Before I sign off, I’d like to congratulate the West Indies. They were probably the best team throughout the tournament so I don’t think anyone can grumble. They’re a brilliant side to watch and their victory will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people … not least antipodeans and those living in the southernmost part of Africa. Ahem!

However, although it’s great to see West Indies cricket (which is beset by so many problems) enjoy another day in the sun, I’m afraid I don’t really share their joy. When I see the natural flair and outrageous talent that West Indian cricketers possess, I can’t help but think ‘if only’.

The West Indies have so much to give the cricketing world. What a shame that politics and an exodus of talent to American sports (etc) prevents them from being competitive in all forms of the game. I wish West Indies cricket had more days like this. Perhaps the likes of Carlos Brathwaite can get them back to the promised land. I certainly hope so.

James Morgan

28 Comments

  1. James Morgan on

    I should quickly add that I feel incredibly sorry for Ben Stokes. But in a way I’m glad it was him, of all our bowlers, who suffered at the end. He’s got the strength of character to come back. I bet he wishes he could have that first ball of the over back. That was the one really poor delivery. I think the next two were more good batting than bad bowling. Just didn’t quite get it right.

  2. Was just about to say the same thing – only the first ball was poor. Quite how the third went all the way I’ve no idea, it seemed to be a total slice. Ultimately though, you just have to take your hat off to a brilliant bit of batting. England didn’t do much wrong really. I wish Root had played conventionally for a couple of overs instead of trying the dink that got him out, and maybe Morgan could have squeezed in an over or two of Moeen early to give himself more options at the death, but ultimately it was just one of those things. I thought Buttler looked as guilty as hell claiming that catch, too, so maybe we got what we deserved…

  3. Madaboutcricket on

    Stokes gobbed off at Samuels and Samuels has the last laugh when it matters.. Keep the trap shut Ben and concentrate on cricket. Bowling nice smash able balls at the end isn’t clever. Lad ran out of ideas and was exposed, get him out the white ball teams and concentrate on red ball if we’ve completely decoded he’s king beefy reincarnated

    Simply rarely delivers with the White ball.

    Wi deserved to win even though they tried to throw it away

  4. Awesome match, fine margins but WI deserved it.

    England can come away from the match and tournament with their heads held high though. Extremely promising team, contributions from everyone.

    One of the big boys now….

    • One of the big boys??? Of course. Second richest country in cricket with unlimited resources. That is what happens when you take money from other countries to make yourself bigger. In no tournament should England enter as an underdog. Portraying them as so is silly and wrong.

      • Ross, you make a valid point and one that is too often ignored. Narratives about how England perform are too much shaped by history or “expectations”. They are valid measures – but it does need to acknowledged more that England is a wealthy and large country that should expect to do well sometimes in global sporting competitions. To do so badly for so long, required quite spectacular mis-governance (which unfortunately some UK sporting bodies were, and still are, more than capable of).

        To take teams in the Super 10 by two measures:
        a) Population (2010 figures) – 1. India 1.2b 2. Pakistan 174m 3. Bangladesh 148m 4. GB 62m 5. RSA 51m 6. Afghanistan 34m 7. Australia 22m 8. SL 20.8m 9. NZ 4.4m

        b) UN Development Index rating (for 2015 – a better measure of wealth than raw GDP) – 1. Australia 0.93 2. NZ 0.91 3. GB 0.9 4. SL 0.75 5. RSA 0.67 6. India 0.61 7. Bangladesh 0.57 8. Pakistan 0.54 9. Afghanistan 0.47

        West Indies are a composite side and it’s behind even my statto obsessions to try to work out their combined totals – but they aren’t going to be near the top of either measure.

        I doubt many in the UK appreciate, for example, how poor India still is (ranked 130th in Development by the UN) or that South Africa doesn’t have a larger population.

      • Depends how you define underdog I guess.

        I’d agree if we’re talking about financial clout. I would disagree if we are talking about expectations of team based on recent history.

        • Fair enough – I wasn’t trying to argue there’s only one valid way of looking at it.

          I wonder how meaningful past history is, post Big Three power-grab? Does anyone attach much significance to Manchester City not having won much pre-2008? England players are on central contracts worth a reputed £700,000 (although one curiosity of yesterday is that less than half the team were on central contracts) and Australia’s is, I believe, about the same – most other teams are on about £100,000. India are an exception because most of their income is not from their contracts per se but from add-ons like endorsements.

          On an unrelated note, will UK viewing figures for yesterday’s Final be released? What, in a supposedly free society, is the justification for not releasing them?

          • James Morgan on

            I imagine more people in other countries watched the final than English cricket supporters. That’s the way it is. No justification whatsoever. The run to the final might have caught the public’s imagination if it was on FTA yesterday. Instead, nobody outside core cricket fans knows who Ben Stokes is … even now. Alternatively, I bet most of the country knew who Sky’s summariser in the studio was: Freddie Flintoff. I wonder why?

          • It comes down to the same thing though – the expectation of whether England “should be” challenging for victory or the expectation of whether they “will be”.

            Expectations for their actual performance seemed fairly low by popular consensus so generally it seems they exceeded them in this sense. Ironically I for one thought these expectations were misplaced anyway as they had generally performed very well against the major nations in T20s in the last year so I think the clues were there.

            It does seem that there are a lot of things wrong with the way cricket is run both nationally and internationally but I admit I am not as aware of the details as others; less so of the solution.

  5. man in a barrel on

    Did you mean to say that Root, Stokes and Moeen got themselves out in quick succession.? A rapid hat-trick is tough to recover from. And Samuels played the mind-games to perfection against the moronic Stoles. Can you explain why Root was so mouthy when he was given out? OK, he’s English so he’s allowed to be mouthy and ungracious like the fuckwit Stokes.

    Ir seems that you find it hard to give credit to the West Indies, with their problems regarding pay, contracts the board of control etc. That is not generous. Why not just say that England, being the wealthier nation, should have won?

    • What an arse you are, take that fish off your shoulder, the Windies played great cricket and deserved to win but your sort of comment is not required.

  6. Is it always the opposition’s bad luck on the day when a team wins? That was some batting from Braithwaite.

    Bowlers are really poor at bowling yorkers under pressure these days. I can’t think of any of them who don’t lose control of their bowling arms in T20 in last overs. Maybe they can’t feel their arms at all through nerves.

    • James Morgan on

      It was a fantastic game and perhaps neither side deserve to lose. As England were the losers, I think they can count themselves rather unlucky. Just one of those things. The margins are so fine.

  7. There are some things in life, and cricket, you just can’t legislate for, and that was one of them. Congratulations to West Indies firstly. It was just remarkable batting. Samuels really seems to enjoy the big occasion: that’s the second T20 final where he’s been man of the match. Marlon reminds me a bit of Carl Hooper: offspin, the same abundant batting talent, the same frustrating inconsistency. Not, perhaps, quite as elegant, but few were.

    • You are right, it is as blinkered and ‘*** you all’ as much as ever. It’s disheartening reading almost anything from the ICC regarding tournaments.

  8. Just a few comments. There is a tendency to blame just the last over. But England didn’t get enough runs and the batsmen were responsible for that. So we have also to count the failures of Roy, Hales and Morgan at the top of the order. There was nothing chancy about Roy being bowled and Hales and Morgan have contributed very little with the bat all tournament. Morgan chose Stokes to bowl last. When he first did this I queried his judgement. I’m a Durham fan and Stokes is our fourth bowler. Morgan didn’t use Ali at all so could have managed his bowlers better to have his best three bowl the last overs. England were too dependent on Root the way India were too dependent on Kohli. There has been a lot of commentary about how the team have soared into the stratosphere compared with last year’s one day side in the World Cup. But the real difference is Root. He has had a stellar year. If he had started his year in the World Cup England would not have gone out in the group stages. His consistency now is amazing. Morgan has had the same poor run as he had in the WC. Ali had one good innings like he did in the WC. Hales not much, same as etc. Willey has proved to be a real bonus. The bowling is much better than in the WC. But the derision of that team is unworthy and without any real analysis. Moores lost his nerve but had Cook foisted upon him until he had to drop him and cobble together a team. T20 is altogether an easier ride for everyone. In two years the England team has done much better at tournament level. But let’s step aside from the hyperbole. The real star is Root. Let’s hope we’re not over-using him to save our bacon in every format. And does anyone really believe that KP would not have strengthened the batting side yesterday? What we are going to get is a lot of propaganda about Strauss and his strategy. But Morgan didn’t deliver with the bat (again) and a world class t20 player was left out in the cold.

    • I agree entirely with your Ali point.
      It is of course hindsight, but taking off Plunkett with an over left to bowl, and bringing on a bowler to whom the WI had not had a chance to become accustomed, might just have avoided those consecutive sixes and left an impossible mountain to climb.

      On the other hand, who else would have suggested the wildly successful Root gambit ?

      Loved this from cricinfo:
      “But then, at the bitterest of denouements, England’s time froze completely. And as West Indies restarted the party that has barely relented since they landed, the realisation dawned that, for Stokes, part of his persona will remain trapped in that over for eternity – another ghost of Eden Gardens, another layer of legend in the greatest venue of all….”

    • And yes, with Pietersen they might just have stolen it.

      I notice Pietersen was extremely generous in his post match comments about Stokes.

      • James Morgan on

        They get on / got on well. Like most of the young players on that disastrous Ashes tour http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/cricket/ben-stokes-adds-to-the-voices-in-praise-of-outcast-kevin-pietersen-9330227.html

        I’m not surprised really. Pietersen wouldn’t have been offered a T20 ‘advisor’ role by Strauss if he didn’t get on well with the likes of Buttler, Stokes etc.

        I’m really glad that most sensible people are coming out in support of Stokes. Yes, it wasn’t his best over, but sometimes you’ve just got to applaud the batsman. I’m sure Stokes will come back strong. The same could’ve been said about Stuart Broad when Yuvraj hit him for 6 sixes in an over! Look at their respective career graphs since then. Broad is now one of England’s most successful ever seamers and the No1 ranked test bowler in the world. Nobody will remember what happened to a young Broad all those years ago.

  9. I will own up and admit I had more than a chuckle about a year ago when Samuels saluted Stokes off the pitch after the latter got out in a test match, but it would be more than a little silly to think that it was all one way. I remember in the game in question it was obvious that Stokes couldn’t shut his gob and that he was getting a fair bit back.

    However yesterday I don’t know whether it was obvious that this was happening so much and that Samuels himself maybe might have exaggerated the amount of verbals that were going on? That said he played a blinding knock but I felt some of his gobbing off afterwards was a little unsightly in comparison to his captain.

  10. This could be the making of Stokes and I hope he learns the lessons and doesn’t let the ignominity get to him. Alexander the Great, Bobby Moore, Jonny Wilkinson, Chris Hoy, Steve Redgrave, Jessica Ennis. Supreme in their sport and not given to too many gobby tirades. Then there’s the Robbie Savage type, all mouth and few medals. At the moment Ben’s more ‘Savage’ than ‘Great’ but he’s young enough and good enough to make the first list. Good luck to him.

    • Supreme in their sport and not given to too many gobby tirades.

      There there are, of course, Shane Warne; John McEnroe; Mohammed Ali… to pick a few random examples.
      🙂

      • Madaboutcricket on

        Are you really comparing stokes to Mohammed Ali or warne?? True legends who had the talent to back up verbals.. Stokes neither has the talent or the track record to gob off.

        I don’t blame stokes, the batsmen are to blame (all of them, root played a stupidly unnecessary lap shot). Sure stokes obviously froze amd got it wrong but hell, it’s a big game.. Defy anyone not to mess up more often than not.

        Doesn’t mean he should be let off gobbling off though

  11. I think we believed our own hype when it came to our “unhittable” death bowling, and Stokes thought he could just run up and bowl 6 full straight deliveries and get away with it. Not the case.

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