The 2010, and most recent, edition of the ICC World T20, held in the Caribbean, at last ended England’s long wait for a win in an ICC-sanctioned global limited-overs event. In two attempts at the ICC Knockout Trophy, four attempts at the ICC Champions Trophy, and 10 attempts at the World Cup, the best they could manage was second on four occasions.
One of those final defeats was against arch-rivals Australia in the 1987 World Cup when England captain Mike Gatting infamously reverse-swept his opposite number Allan Border into the hands of Greg Dyer to bring Australia back into a match that they should have been out of. And who should England play in the final in Barbados in 2010 but Australia.
Fortunately for them, this time around history didn’t repeat itself and they won a relatively one-sided final in Barbados by seven wickets with three overs to spare. Ryan Sidebottom again led England’s bowling attack as he had done for much of the tournament and took two for 26 to help restrict the Australians to 147 for six from their 20 overs.
Craig Kieswetter and man of the tournament Kevin Pietersen then added 111 for the second wicket off only 68 balls to take England to the brink of victory, while captain Paul Collingwood – ruthlessly deposed as leader not long afterwards – and Eoin Morgan came together to see them across the line.
While Kevin Pietersen was named man of the tournament courtesy of his second-best run tally of 248 runs from six matches, which came in spite of him missing the final super eight game to attend the birth of his first child, it was England’s bowlers who, just as much, deserved the plaudits. The tournament was the first that saw the slower-ball bouncer used on a wide scale and it was England’s seamers, in particular Ryan Sidebottom, who also made good use of the different angle created by his left-arm over the wicket bowling, who were among its greatest exponents.
England's path to the final had been - a Duckworth-Lewis induced loss to the West Indies apart - a relatively straightforward one. They came through the initial group phase, despite that hiccup against the West Indies, and then unexpectedly topped their super eight group, beating defending champions Pakistan and one of the pre-tournament favourites, South Africa, along the way. Their semi-final against Sri Lanka in St Lucia was a one-sided affair - they won with four overs to spare as Stuart Broad (two for 21) and Kevin Pietersen (42 not out off 26 balls) led the way.
Australia also topped their super eight group and went through ahead of West Indies and 2007 champions India, maintaining an unbeaten record along the way. Their semi-final, against Pakistan, was a much tenser affair than England’s.
Indeed, at 144 for seven in the 18th over in pursuit of 192 to win, they looked to have lost, but Mike Hussey hit a quite brilliant 60 not out off only 24 balls as they hit 53 runs off the last 17 deliveries of their innings to win with a ball to spare. Ultimately, though, they were to fall short at the final hurdle against an organised England team.
England’s triumph in the Caribbean would mark the beginning of an historic 18 months for their team. In the winter of 2010-11, they won the Ashes on Australian soil and then, in the summer of 2011, whitewashed India to become the number one ranked side in Test cricket - a spot they would hold onto until the following summer, when they lost 2-0 to South Africa.
Their form in One-Day International cricket also showed signs of improvements, in spite of a typically mediocre performance at the 2011 World Cup, and they will end 2012 as the number one ranked side in that format.
© Cricket World 2012
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