England captain Paul Collingwood cited his team’s self-belief as a key factor in their Twenty20 final victory against arch-rivals Australia at the Kensington Oval on Sunday.
Collingwood’s men reduced an Australia side previously unbeaten at the tournament to eight for three and then held them to a total of 147 for six.
England won in convincing fashion, by seven wickets with three overs to spare, after a commanding second-wicket stand of 111 between man-of-the-match Craig Kieswetter (63) and man-of-the-tournament Kevin Pietersen (47).
It was all a far cry from last year’s World Twenty20 where Collingwood was the captain of an England side that lost their opening match to minnows the Netherlands at Lord’s.
England’s team on Sunday featured five survivors from that Dutch debacle — Collingwood, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom.
But it also contained Kieswetter and fellow opener Michael Lumb, neither of whom had played an international Twenty20 before this tournament but who provided a platform England have so often lacked in limited overs cricket.
Meanwhile Pietersen, fit and back in form after last year’s Achilles problems, was in superb form.
England started this tournament with an unlucky Duckworth/Lewis loss to the West Indies in Guyana.
However, from the Super Eights on they reeled off several impressive wins.
Collingwood, asked what had changed nearly a year on from a now infamous loss at Lord’s, told reporters: “I think belief has been the key.
“As soon as we got the squad together, seeing how much power we have in the squad, I know that is all on paper but we could tell that we had a lot of potential,” he added.
“I think belief has been a huge thing – you can see from the way the guys have gone out from first ball, believing in themselves and taking it to the opposition and playing a brand of cricket that is unlike England in the past.
“I think a lot of credit goes to every single player in the dressing room to have the confidence to go out there and really give it their best shots and have no regrets.
“I think we have done that throughout the tournament and it has certainly paid off.”
England had never previously won a major one-day tournament, having lost in the 1979, 1987 and 1992 World Cup finals as well as falling in the climax of the 2004 Champions Trophy.
“This is right up there, with the best,” added all-rounder Collingwood, twice an Ashes winner.
“To be the first [English] team to win a ‘World Cup’ is very special.
“We knew it was a monkey on our back. The bowlers have done a fantastic job,” added Collingwood after a victory where left-arm quick Ryan Sidebottom took two early wickets and off-spinner Graeme Swann one for just 17 from his four overs.
“No team has really got hold of us throughout the tournament. A lot of credit goes to them for their thought processes, and the execution of plans have been absolutely spot on.”
However, Collingwood said he hoped this victory would now mark the start of a run of limited-overs success for England rather than the end of a chapter.
“We’re not going to get carried away — well, we are for the next couple of days; we’re going to savour the moment and enjoy it, because we deserve to.
“But good teams kick on, and that’s exactly what we’ll get drilled into the guys. We’ve got a lot more potential as well — that’s the scary part about it. We can go even further.”
Meanwhile Australia captain Michael Clarke refused to be riled by suggestions his team had lost to an England side whose two star batsmen — Pietersen and Kieswetter — were born in South Africa, as was Lumb, and so ought to be playing for the Proteas.
“At the end of the day they play for England,” Clarke said.
“I would imagine they are very proud to play for England and they played wonderfully well today.” — AFP