This is really something. England now hold the Ashes and the world championship of the fastest-growing form of the game. In beating, nay dismantling Australia yesterday in the World Twenty20 final, they achieved the target set by those who run English cricket, and much more besides.
It is one thing to win after 35 years of failed, sometimes misconceived, attempts in international limited overs competitions, another to have done so with such unfamiliar élan. England took the trophy – by seven wickets with three overs left, which is virtually a lifetime in Twenty20 cricket – because they were the best team. Pure and simple.
They had the player of the final in Craig Kieswetter, who had not played a Twenty20 international before this competition started, for his 63 from 49 balls, and the player of the tournament in Kevin Pietersen, who scored a total of 248 runs from 180 balls with increasing imperiousness. His 47 from 31 balls yesterday was proof he has returned to his old form.
"This is very special, the guys deserved they got," said their captain, Paul Collingwood. "We have won a world cup and nobody can ever take that away from us. We thoroughly deserved the victory because the way we have played throughout the competition has been consistent and we have taken the game to the opposition.
"We have had a lot of belief, the guys have thought very well for themselves, made the right decisions and in the end we have turned up on a big occasion like this and performed. To be the first team to win a world cup is very special, We knew it was a monkey on our back and what it meant. Everyone has contributed along the way and that's why we have played well as a team."
With the thousands of English fans outside still in a fever pitch of excitement at the ease of it all, it was perhaps not the time to wonder about the future. But England do not intend to wait another 35 years for a second trophy.
"We just wanted to win whether it was off the last ball or with 10 overs to spare," said Collingwood. "That's what counts. It doesn't matter how good or ugly it looks. We're going to savour this moment and enjoy it because we deserve to, but good teams kick on and that will get drilled into the guys. We have got a lot more potential as well and that's the scary thing about it – that we can go even further. This is the first step and then we will come across the next hurdle after a few more days."
It is the convention for winners to say that their win is the start of something, but so rapid has been England's ascent that it is perfectly possible not be pessimistic about their chances in the 50-over World Cup next year. As for the Ashes this winter, yesterday could be seen as a marker being set. Michael Clarke quite rightly pointed out that many of Australia's players would be different then, but he was not kidding himself about the margin of yesterday's victory.
"England have got a lot of talent no doubt and they showed that today," he said. "They have got match-winners in that team who can win the game on their own. No matter who you play against in the final you have to be at your best and we weren't today. You have to give credit where it's due – they outplayed us."
For Pietersen, it has been some fortnight, embracing this triumph after his woeful run of form earlier in the winter and the birth of his first child.
"It's humbling, but if it wasn't for the help of all the dressing room and the coaching staff in Bangladesh I probably wouldn't have been here playing this," he said.
But he was. So were England. And how.
England's winning run
*Beat Pakistan by six wickets (6 May, Barbados). Pakistan 147-9, England 151-4 (Pietersen 73)
*Beat South Africa by 39 runs (8 May, Barbados). England 168-7 (Pietersen 53, Kieswetter 41), South Africa 129 (Swann 3-24, Sidebottom 3-23)
*Beat New Zealand by three wickets (10 May, St. Lucia). New Zealand 149-6 (Taylor 44), England 153-7 (Morgan 40)
*Beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets (13 May, St. Lucia). Sri Lanka 128-6, England 132-2 (Pietersen 42)
*Beat Australia by seven wickets (16 May, Barbados). Australia 147-6 (D Hussey 59), England 148-3 (Kieswetter 63, Pietersen 47)Reuse content