England have 16 days to pick themselves up for the Ashes after Alastair Cook admitted their remarkable defeat by India in the Champions Trophy final was his worst moment as captain.
Needing 20 runs to win from 16 deliveries, and with six wickets in hand in a match reduced to 20 overs per side by the rain, England somehow managed to lose. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara departed in consecutive balls after taking the team to the brink of victory and they did not recover from that setback. India won by five runs and England’s wait for a first global title in the 50-over format goes on.
Cook also criticised third umpire Bruce Oxenford’s decision that Ian Bell had been run out, even though replays did not appear conclusive that the batsman had been out of his ground when Mahendra Singh Dhoni removed the bails. As controversial as it was, Bopara and Morgan added 64 in 55 balls after Bell’s dismissal, so England would struggle to argue it was a turning point.
“It’s my lowest point as captain,” said Cook, who has led the one-day side since 2011. “We had high hopes of doing something special and it was a great chance for us to do that.
“Did we choke? From the position we were in, you’d back yourself to win more times than you would lose but it shows how quickly the game can change when it is effectively a Twenty20.
“There was a good partnership to get us back into the game between Morgan and Bopara and on a wicket that was spinning, we needed a batsman there at the end if we were going to win the game. At the moment, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
“I thought the Ian Bell decision was a poor one. I saw the replay only a couple of times and maybe he [Oxenford] saw a different angle, but it looked pretty clear to me that Ian Bell was in his ground. He is paid to make those decisions.”
Cook did not reveal whether he would refer to the Bell incident in his report but deep down, the captain will surely be honest enough to acknowledge that Oxenford’s verdict did not cost his team the trophy.
Dhoni and his players, meanwhile, would have felt at home at Edgbaston, where the majority of the crowd were cheering India. “We didn’t have too much support, but that’s not an excuse,” Cook conceded.
Dhoni has now led India to the World Twenty20, in 2007, the 2011 World Cup and this Champions Trophy. The wicketkeeper was disappointed that, with no reserve day scheduled for the final, the teams could not fight it out over 50 overs, but he revealed he had urged his team not to use the weather as justification for performing poorly.
“It’s unfair we had to play a Twenty20 to decide the outcome of a 50-over tournament,” said Dhoni. “That’s something the ICC [cricket’s world governing body] need to look at.
“I told my players to ignore the weather and not to think that God was coming to save us. I reminded them that we were the No1-ranked one-day side, to fight for ourselves and not to look for outside help.
“We’ve beaten a lot of good teams in this tournament and it means a lot to beat England when they needed only 130 to win.”
Cook added: “The dressing room is a tough place right now and it will take a couple of days to get over this. But when we have taken the emotion out of it we will look at the situation and we will build again for the 2015 World Cup.
“Hopefully our first global 50-over title will come in that tournament. It’s been a hectic start to the summer but we need to use these days off wisely and recharge the batteries. I’m proud of the way we fought.
“We were under pressure throughout and faced a fair bit of flak and criticism, but still we managed to reach the final.”Reuse content