What comes next for the men who took England to the top of the world?

Twenty20 stars hope to break into the Test side, but first Strauss must settle in with a new power base. Stephen Brenkley reports

England batted better, bowled better and fielded better. Apart from that there was no reason at all that they should have become the World Twenty20 champions.

There are too many of these competitions, coming along quicker than flights after a volcanic ash scare. It had been only 10 months since the last global Twenty20 tournament (pity Pakistan for being deprived of their throne so swiftly) and next year in India the World Cup for 50 overs, the original but no longer the best, is to be held.

The year after that there will be another limited-overs gathering of some sort yet to be confirmed. It is easier to list the boxing champions in every weight category under every board, together with the table of chemical elements in alphabetical order, than it is to name the holders of the various limited-overs cricket titles. Until Sunday, if you were in doubt, it was safe to gamble on Australia.

If the International Cricket Council fails to sort out this mess then it is in danger of confusing its considerable public to the point of terminal tedium. It will also ensure the demise of Test cricket about which it continues to talk a good game whilst doing nowt. None of which can detract from the authenticity of England's triumph.

For 35 years since the inception of the World Cup – oh what a heady time it was in that early summer of 1975 – England have been trying and failing to prove themselves the best at some form of the limited-overs game or other. They have come close before. In 1992 in Australia they were probably the most accomplished side but perhaps peaked too soon and ultimately lost the final to Pakistan.

There had been four finals in all in 18 tournaments. But lately and almost uniformly, England had been wretched. They had turned up to places without a hope, an aspiration that they all too quickly fulfilled. This is what makes their formidable victory in the third World Twenty20 the more surprising: the best team won.

The defeat of Australia by seven wickets with three overs to spare was clinical and outrageous. Imagine beating them in an Ashes Test by an innings on the fourth morning and there is some sense of the magnitude of it.

Nor was it a lone victory. England assembled a sequence from the second, so called Super Eight stage, on. In every department of the game they knew what they were doing and did it. At the start it was easy to be sceptical about their combination which seemed to have been assembled on a wing and a prayer. Two of their squad, do not forget, had never played an international T20 match, another had been out of the reckoning and perhaps mind for three years.

Their best player, Kevin Pietersen, had been worryingly out of form for months. But the first three, Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter and Mike Yardy, took to it as to the manor born and Pietersen returned to his dramatic peak, as deserving to be named as player of the tournament as England were to win it.

The selectors, it seemed, knew what they were doing all along: whether batting or bowling, hit the opposition hard at the top, then stifle them in the middle and let them know what you are about again at the end. It was thrilling stuff, all the better for being so unfamiliar, and it is a template that will be transferred to the 50-over game, and who knows, to Test cricket, for timidity and attrition will not retain the Ashes in Australia this winter. The stock of players such as Eoin Morgan and Tim Bresnan has risen as if in a bull market.

Andy Flower, who formally took over only a year ago, now stands alone in English cricketing history as the only coach to have guided the side to victories in both an Ashes and an ICC trophy. He steadfastly avoided taking any of the credit in the warm aftermath of seeing off the oldest enemy, the significance of which even a man who played all his international cricket for Zimbabwe was well aware.

"Our cricket has been very good, and make no mistake the guys have worked bloody hard at their games and put a lot of thought into it," he said. "The help they've had from the support staff has been excellent. The new bowling coach, David Saker, has fitted in seamlessly and done a good job.

"Everyone has seen the improvements in the fielding standards. Some of that is selection and some the methods the fielding coach, Richard Halsall, has used to get people excited about fielding for England. I also think some of Graham Gooch's influence has been important even though he's not here.

"When he he has been with us he has made some impactful influences on our batsmen. In some way it has been technical with some of them and then in a big way mentally too. There has been a really good input from the support staff but in the end it is the guys who go over the line that deserve the credit."

Not a mention of the part played by Flower himself, who was instrumental in gathering this support staff around him and who orchestrated the grand plan.

At risk of raining on this parade – though nobody has yet, thankfully, proposed an open top bus ride to Trafalgar a la Ashes triumph 2005 – there are some niggling concerns.

The first is the return to the squad, in time for the first Test against Bangladesh next week, of Andrew Strauss, the man whom everybody thinks of as England's cricket captain. But for almost six months, while the team have been playing, Strauss has filled the role in name only.

He missed the tour to Bangladesh, when Alastair Cook led England to a whitewash in one-dayers and Test matches and he has been absent, again of his own volition, from the World Twenty20, while Paul Collingwood has led them to glory.

Nobody could have ever predicted that Collingwood, a homely yeoman of Durham, would be the fellow to lead England to this momentous triumph but his name will now live on.

Strauss, then, returns against this backdrop, still claiming this to be his team. Perhaps he will because he has proved himself to have immense leadership credentials. But the situation may now be different, the balance of the changing room may have shifted. Flower, however, considers that it will be a seamless transition and he has been right about many things so far.

The second niggle is the composition of the team, with three players of South African birth and upbringing, Pietersen, Kieswetter and Lumb. They have pledged their loyalty and allegiance to England which is well and good but the whole reason for international sport – as opposed to club sport – is for nation to play nation in a spirit of friendly rivalry just to see how each other is getting along at a particular point in time. It is supposed to reflect the fluctuations, culture and, yes, diversity of that society and anything else – not least mention of the mantra of globalisation – misses the point.

But this may be to cavil. England were a pleasure to watch. They were simply splendid.

THREE'S A CROWD – WHAT NEXT FOR THE ENGLAND CAPTAINS?

Alastair Cook

Successful, thoughtful and mature leader in Bangladesh, but England eventually want just one captain – so where does that leave him?

Andrew Strauss

Everybody says it is still his team. Perhaps he deserves it to be so but he must regain control and respect immediately.

Paul Collingwood

Elevated to a mythic status that will endure forever, captain of the world champions. Superb, but who'd have thought it?

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before