A crowning moment for England’s golden T20 generation
The joy was palpable.
Jos Buttler blinked back the tears as he prepared to lift the trophy, Moeen Ali cast off his usual bashful shackles to leap into teammates' arms, and Ben Stokes roared into the Melbourne night sky as Liam Livingstone clung to his back.
This was the T20 moment that the current generation of England players had been waiting for – an official recognition of their quality and class in the format.
For six years England have been one of, if not the standout team in T20 International cricket.
The white-ball revolution inspired by Eoin Morgan has seen the England national team become a major force in the short-form game, producing a conveyor belt of talent that populates the world’s biggest franchise leagues and lights up the world game.
But, until Sunday, that T20 revolution had not yielded silverware.
Failure to beat Pakistan at the MCG would have presented the very real possibility that England’s great T20 generation would finish their careers without a 20-over world title to secure their place in the history books.
For the likes of Buttler, Ali and Adil Rashid to slip away into retirement without that entry in their honours list would have been a huge disappointment.
Six years ago England reached the final of the 2016 T20 World Cup and could easily have won were it not for Carlos Brathwaite’s late heroics.
In 2021 they were the strongest team in the tournament before being stunned once again at the death, this time at the hands of New Zealand.
But now England have that T20 title that their continued excellence merits.
The first generation of England cricketers to simultaneously hold both the T20 World Cup and Cricket World Cup titles are now guaranteed of their place in England legend.
And it was clear to see that the players knew just that as they celebrated on the outfield with their families and friends.
Surrounded by ticker-tape and dealing with waves of different emotions, the enormity of their achievement has not yet sunk in.
But Buttler now joins Morgan and Paul Collingwood as World Cup-winning England captains.
Ben Stokes is England’s T20 hero just as he has been in ODI and Test cricket.
Adil Rashid has stood up in the biggest moment and delivered.
Moeen Ali has made a crucial contribution in a world final.
Sam Curran has stepped up from useful all-rounder to leader of the attack.
Alex Hales has taken his second chance in England colours and grabbed that chance with both hands.
Chris Jordan has shrugged off the disappointment of being dropped to move on from his UAE heartbreak.
Chris Woakes has quietly but effectively added to his glittering palmares.
Dawid Malan has the medal to go with his vast quantity of runs.
And Liam Livingstone and Harry Brook can move on to future tournaments without the baggage of past failures.
The past has been excellent, the future is bright, and the present is victorious for England’s T20 superstars.
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