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by Saksham Mishra & Cricket World Saturday 16 May 2020
It was a gutsy decision by the two to replace Jonathan Trott and Joe Denly, the more proper batsmen, with the explosive opening pair of Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter months before the showpiece event. Things could have gone horribly wrong for Flower and Collingwood had their faith not been repaid.
The captain-coach duo also made a slew of other non-conventional choices: Former captains Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook were not considered for selection. Another big move was dropping Samit Patel, despite him being arguably the better spinner and more flamboyant batsman, for Michael Yardy.
This highlighted Flower's insistence on a team that would turn out not only as one of the sharpest England outfits on the field but where everything contributed to a centripetal force towards the team, with no room for sentiment.
Owing to this very philosophy, Owais Shah was also not given a look-in and the charismatic James Anderson was left out for the spirited Ryan Sidebottom.
England made a slow start to the tournament after rain cost them their opening match against West Indies. Their next game against Ireland ended without a result.
But as soon as the Super 8s arrived, the team upped their game and blew away Pakistan by 6 wickets with Kevin Pietersen being their top scorer with an unbeaten 73 off 52 deliveries - this would become a regular feature throughout the World Cup.
The win against Pakistan was followed by another reassuring victory against South Africa by 39 runs as Pietersen struck another quick half-century. Eoin Morgan came to the team's rescue in their last Super 8 match against New Zealand as the team won by 6 wickets to make it to the semis.
By then, the England bowling was flying high and making it very difficult for the opposition to score big runs. Their top five bowlers in Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy choked the opponents, not allowing them any score in excess of 150, thus making the job of their batters much easier.
The Paul Collingwood-led team faced the challenge of a star-studded Sri Lankan side in the semi-finals but Pietersen, who had become a father just three days ago, finished up top yet again with an unbeaten 42 off just 26 deliveries.
Now came the big final. Australia had won 10 of their last 11 T20Is and their only loss had been via a Super Over. While that was cause for concern, England were quietly confident in their ability.
Courtesy of Ryan Sidebottom's inspired opening spell, Australia stuttered to 147/6 on the back of David Hussey's calculated half-century. It took England only 17 overs to wrap up the game with top-drawer performances from Craig Kieswetter (63 off 49 balls) and Kevin Pietersen (47 off 31 deliveries). It was only befitting that skipper Collingwood hit the winning runs.
Collingwood and KP, the two architects of England's World Cup victory, could not have been happier as England drubbed their arch rivals to lift their first-ever World Cup trophy.
Collingwood: If you could bottle that feeling we had when the winning run was scored, you'd be very rich. It was pure elation, freedom and happiness. To see all of your team-mates running towards you from the dugout, I don't think it can get any better than that. It's pure heaven. It's why you play the game.
Pietersen: The whole tournament was fun. It makes me smile and brings back happy memories. It was one of my better team days in an England shirt. The 2005 Ashes and the final day at The Oval was magnificent and changed the way cricket was viewed in this country for a long time, but to beat Australia in the final with that team was very special. To be a part of it brings back the fondest of memories.
©Cricket World 2020