England’s Eoin Morgan laments T20 final defeat: ‘Cricket can be a cruel game’

• Captain says it will take all-rounder time to recover from final-over horror
• Marlon Samuels fined 30% of match fee for abusive language to Stokes

For the 48,000 neutrals here the Twenty20 World Cup final delivered a wonderful spectacle: a taut, fluctuating contest that was enthralling. For the two sides the extremes of elation and despair that can be conjured simply by chasing and hitting a hunk of leather can seldom have been so stark.

England were forced to defend a total (155 for nine) that Eoin Morgan described as 40 runs short. Yet they did this so tenaciously that, when Ben Stokes ran in to bowl the last over, West Indies needed 19 runs to win. Carlos Brathwaite hit the next four balls for six. The game was over; West Indies celebrated with a vim and vigour that no team on earth can match. England were devastated.

Stokes, a hero in England’s last two matches, was stuck on his haunches, staring at the turf in disbelief and despair at what had just happened.

“Cricket can be a cruel game,” acknowledged Morgan, as he tried to explain the outcome and the agony of Stokes. “I thought we did extremely well with the ball. At no stage did the West Indies get anywhere near where they wanted.”

Yet Brathwaite’s assault on Stokes had decided the match and Morgan had, among many other duties, to deal with his young all-rounder’s plight.

“It’s quite simple from my point of view,” said Morgan. “He [Stokes] is going to be devastated. It’ll take its toll in the next couple of days. But we share the pain just as we share success. You could say what you like to him at the moment but he’s probably not hearing it.”

Stokes later expressed his disappointment on Twitter, saying he was “overwhelmed by all the support of everyone after a disappointing last over.....So proud to of [sic] represented my country in a World Cup final. To everyone who has supported us thank you very much you’ve been awesome...congrats to the West Indies on winning a great final.”

Overwhelmed by all the support of everyone after a disappointing last over.....So proud to of represented my country in a World Cup final...

— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) April 3, 2016

Meanwhile Marlon Samuels, the man of the match for his 85 not out, was not in a mood to bury any hatchets or walk off graciously into what was bound to be a long night. He did not have much sympathy for Stokes. “He is a nervous laddie, so what I tell Brathwaite is to just hold his pose and he’s going to bowl a couple of full tosses, as always, and it will work in our favour. So he played a brilliant knock at the end there to give me a little break down at the other end. He [Stokes] doesn’t learn.

“They keep telling him when he plays against me, do not speak to me because then I’m going to perform. I didn’t even face a ball and he had so much to say to me that I know I had to be right there at the end, again.”

Nor does Shane Warne reside on Samuels’ Christmas card list. Warne had been very critical of Samuels batting in the semi-final. “Every team I play for, Shane Warne has a problem with me,” said Samuels, who was later fined 30% of his match fee for using abusive and offensive language. “I don’t know why. I’ve never disrespected him. I don’t appreciate the way that he continues to talk about me. I don’t know, maybe it is because my face is real and his face is not.”

Morgan himself was surprisingly calm, if a little shell-shocked afterwards. He could still see a way ahead after this numbing disappointment. “Personally I think we will have a lot more success in the future. This is just the beginning,” he said. Morgan acknowledged that in this game his side had been “terrible” with the bat. “But you make what you can with what you have.”

Morgan’s ploy of opening the bowling with Joe Root worked brilliantly, dispatching both West Indies openers, both caught on the boundary by Stokes.

Thereafter, Morgan said: “I could not fault anything with the ball. They were exceptional. As a whole I’m very proud of my players. I said that yesterday before the game. Today was about letting ourselves go and play with the freedom. I’m extremely proud. This is the beginning of something I hope is going to be special. Let’s hope we can keep this group of players together for a long time.”

West Indies captain Darren Sammy knows that his group of players cannot stay together for long since there are many way beyond the wrong side of 30. He is a cheerful man but he was also keen to make a few points afterwards.

“We felt disrespected by our board, Mark Nicholas described us as having no brains and all this brought us together. The ability to put adversity aside and to play this type of cricket is just tremendous,” said Sammy.

“We dedicate this win to all the fans in the Caribbean. I don’t know when we will play together again. We don’t get selected for the one-day team.”


Vic Marks at Eden Gardens

The GuardianTramp

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