England v West Indies, World T20 2016 final, Kolkata April 2, 2016

England's class of 2016 revives the winning formula

There are remarkable similarities between the England side which won the World T20 in 2010 and the one in the final this time

Will Eoin Morgan emulate Paul Collingwood? © AFP

Paul Collingwood called it an omen, but the fact that England's opening match of the 2016 World T20 was a defeat at the hands of West Indies wasn't the only uncanny similarity between the team that won the trophy in 2010 and the one that has been gathering a formidable head of steam in the past couple of weeks.

Collingwood, England captain then and England back-room presence now, knows better than almost anyone else in the current squad what makes for a successful campaign in this most intense of international tournaments.

And the evidence of a relaxed but determined band of players is that the lessons of 2010 are sitting pretty with the current crop. Which makes perfect sense, really, when you consider just how uncannily alike the two campaigns are turning out to be.

From the no-holds-barred power-hitting at the top of the order, to the depth and variety of the bowling options, England in 2016 have once again hit upon a line-up that not only covers all bases, the skills of the players over-lap and inter-link with one another, allowing a margin for error than translates into a licence to have a go.

In 2010, this have-a-go attitude famously stemmed from an absence of long-term planning - England ditched their plans on a whim in the UAE in February, and by May they were reaping the rewards of a complete absence of expectation.

A similar approach is paying off six years later - it wasn't possible to get any lower than the 2015 World Cup last year, so once again England have been fuelled by a philosophy that more or less translates as "what could possibly go wrong?"

What could possibly go wrong if England trusted their opening batsmen to see the ball and hit the ball, as Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb did to superb effect in 2010 and Jason Roy and Alex Hales have done in the weeks just gone?

What could possibly go wrong if they opted for extreme variety in their front-line seam-bowling options? In 2010, that involved ditching the talented but, in T20 cricket at least, eminently hittable James Anderson as the leader of their attack, and trusting instead the left-arm curl of Ryan Sidebottom, a man whose ability to bend the ball back into the right-hander's pads made him a devastating threat in the otherwise frenetic Powerplays.

For Sidebottom, read David Willey, another man who didn't seem to be foremost in England's thoughts until a slightly low-key hat-trick in their warm-up match in Mumbai persuaded the management to trust his tenacious big-game attitude.

And for Stuart Broad read the up-and-at-'em Liam Plunkett, whose aggressive straight lines and liberal use of the short ball are reminiscent of the middle-overs tactics that Broad put to such good use six years ago, peppering the middle of the pitch and demanding errors from well-set batsmen with accumulation on their minds.

Which just leaves the captain in both teams. Collingwood and Morgan would prefer not to have this particular trait in common, but unfortunately neither man has really been able to buy a run in their respective campaigns

And if Chris Jordan's exceptional performance in the semi-final was anything to go by, then the value of a man who can bowl a yorker on demand remains as high now as it was back then. Tim Bresnan was England's go-to man for the art of toe-crushing in that short but golden period of form which would culminate in his starring role in the 2010-11 Ashes and the 4-0 whitewashing of India.

Ahead of the semi-final against New Zealand, Adil Rashid was described by Eoin Morgan as England's "X-Factor", an acknowledgement that a wicket-taking spin bowler with a propensity for claiming first-over breakthroughs a must-have for any world-beating side. Graeme Swann would doubtless agree.

And though his batting is more sumptuous than that of Michael Yardy, Moeen Ali is likewise making a very fine career out of being that man that England need to do a job. And though Yardy memorably came in for a bit of tap in the final against Australia at Bridgetown, conceding 21 runs in his third over, then as now England do not simply rely on five bowlers bowling four overs each to get through their quota.

There was a Plan B back then, and his name was Luke Wright, whose only over of the tournament came at the crunch moment of the final, when he conceded five singles and took the vital wicket of Cameron White.

Six years on, the emergence of a genuine allrounder in Ben Stokes means that that role is now significantly more than just a fill-in option. But the mettle required to front up when the going gets tough, as Stokes did at the death against Sri Lanka, is every bit as critical.

England's gun batsmen in 2010 were an intriguing pairing. An unequivocal worldbeater with big-game savvy and a change-up of strokeplay that could take the breath away, and a young buck whose consistency was a critical factor, as so to was his ability to rotate the strike and manipulate the field.

On the face of it, Kevin Pietersen and Jos Buttler have little in common, although to judge by his displays in the last two contests, Buttler's self-effacing persona isn't going to prevent him from becoming an IPL superstar when his stint with Mumbai Indians gets underway next week.

And then there's Joe Root, chipping, chivvying and occasionally astonishing, with a thrum of under-stated class that Morgan Mk 1 brought to his game back in 2010, at a time when his unique repertoire of nudges, nurdles and paddywhacks was as exotic and esoteric as the coming generations' 360-degree strokeplay is now seen as commonplace.

Which just leaves the captain in both teams. Collingwood and Morgan would prefer not to have this particular trait in common, but unfortunately neither man has really been able to buy a run in their respective campaigns.

Morgan acknowledged as much in the pre-match press conference, saying it would be nice occasionally to survive a ball after two golden ducks in three innings. As for Collingwood, he limped to 61 runs in seven innings, with a highest score of 16 against Pakistan.

And yet, such has been the unity and ubiquity of England's performances from 1 to 11, there has been space in both teams to carry a captain who could bring nous, experience and calm in the crunch situations.

And if, on Sunday evening, Morgan should emulate Collingwood in striking the winning runs in the World T20 final, you can guarantee that, now as then, the skipper will form the focal point of the cavorting to follow.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on April 3, 2016, 2:04 GMT

    There are some superficial similarities, but really these two sides are nothing like each other. England 2010 was a team that dried up the runs of the opposition; no-one scored 150 against them. England 2010 gives up runs much more freely; only one side (Afghanistan) has failed to score 150 against them. On the other hand, England 2010 wasn't nearly as deep or as fluent with the bat. Oddly enough, the only time they cast off the shackles was against West Indies when they scored 191-5 and that was the game they lost. Rain reduced the WI target to 60 from 6 with all 10 wickets in hand. Even so, WI only got home with 1 ball to spare. In the final against Australia, Tim Bresnan was down to bat at #7; the only player above whom he would bat in the present line-up is Liam Plunkett.

    Different days, different ways, but both sides got to the final. Let's hope this side can finish the job as well as the 2010 side did.

  • Danish on April 2, 2016, 19:33 GMT

    Yes it does have some similarities. But one has to say that the bowling back then was very good. Sidebottom was sensational. The England back then also seemed to plan much better. They seemed to be winning as if everything was planned.

    I came up with this analogy between Morgan and Collingwood as well.

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