And are thus honoured with the Champions Trophy white jackets. What an honour.
The final was an odd one, not least because it featured only 40 per cent of the scheduled overs. As soon as they announced it would be 20 overs a side, everyone started talking about six-hitting, but we had hardly any of that garbage. Instead we got a classic, low-scoring wobbler.
Low totals, high drama
India couldn’t score. India could barely get the ball off the square. Quite why no-one really acknowledged this between innings is beyond us – although we can’t prove that isn’t hindsight.
Either way, England also struggled to score. The run-rate climbed and only set batsmen had half a chance of hitting boundaries. When it got to the slog, Morgan and Bopara got a few away but when they were dismissed off successive deliveries, the new batsmen had no chance and ended up looking like idiots. The running between wickets was a bit crap, but everything was already out of control by that point.
This must be some kind of a choke
Numbers-wise, it was an easy target, but when Suresh Raina turns it square, you have to reevaluate what you consider easy. England didn’t really crumble to quite the extent many would have you believe. The required run-rate was much more demanding than it seemed.
But England needed 20 off 16 balls and lost. That’s close enough to move beyond carelessness into other territory. People are weirdly desperate to use the word ‘choke’ any chance they get these days. Maybe it’s because there are so many meaningless matches that we’ve all forgotten what competition is all about. Skill and physical prowess are just starting points and nerve is what holds it all together.
Considering the difficulties everyone was having scoring, we don’t feel England threw away a dominant position. It was fragile even with Morgan and Bopara together because a wicket was likely to change everything – and it did. Once they were out, England needed to show more nerve than India. They couldn’t.
India were just better. 129 turned out to be a decent target, they bowled and fielded fiendishly and they were more confident in themselves when it came to the crunch.
But both teams can be happy. At some point during the match it was announced that Steve Smith had been added to Australia’s Ashes squad, so while India are undeniably in credit, England have basically broken even.