Team will share Stokes' pain - Morgan
Eoin Morgan, the England captain, says his team will share the pain of their agonising final-over defeat in the World T20 final against West Indies in Kolkata, just as he hopes they will share the triumphs he believes they will produce in the future.
It was England's batting, Morgan added, that had let them down today, after an erratic performance had left them defending a total of 155. However, he was also aware that no amount of team unity would be enough to console the fall-guy of the final, Ben Stokes, after his final over was struck for four sixes in a row in a stunning match-seizing onslaught from Carlos Braithwaite.
"It's quite simple from my point of view," said Morgan. "[Stokes] is going to be devastated, and it'll take its toll over the next couple of days, but we share everything that we do, we stick together as a side, we share the pain, we share the success, now and in the future.
"I can't fault anything we did with the ball today, we were exceptional, there was a tremendous amount of belief at the halfway stage that we'd put a score on the board and we were right in the game. But we let ourselves down tremendously with the bat. I thought we were terrible, probably 40 short on a 180-190 wicket.
"But you can say what you like to [Stokes] at the moment, but he's probably not hearing it."
That was a sentiment Marlon Samuels, West Indies' Player of the Match and long-term adversary of Stokes, also expressed at the conclusion of the game, although he did so with no intention to soothe any hurt pride.
Speaking to the media with his feet on the desk in the press conference room and with his winners' gold medal dangling from his neck, Samuels dismissed Stokes as "nervous" and said that he "doesn't learn" after coming off second-best on numerous previous occasions in his jousts with Samuels.
In the Caribbean in 2014, Stokes famously broke his hand punching a locker in the dressing room after being dismissed for a duck in Bridgetown, and on England's subsequent Test tour in the spring of 2015, Samuels stood to attention and saluted Stokes from the crease after his dismissal for 8 in Grenada.
Today, the two were involved in a brief altercation at the start of Samuels' innings, when he came to the crease with West Indies in some trouble at 1 for 1 in the second over, which soon became 5 for 2 with the dismissal of Chris Gayle.
Samuels duly shored up West Indies' run-chase with a brilliantly paced 85 not out from 66 balls but he was stranded at the non-striker's end when the match entered its decisive moment. Asked what advice he had given his batting partner, Braithwaite, when 19 needed for West Indies to win the match and their second World T20 title, Samuels said:
"Stokes is a nervous laddie, so what I tell Braithwaite 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. And he played a brilliant knock at the end there to give me a little break down at the other end."
Channelling the anger that Darren Sammy, West Indies' captain, had expressed rather more eloquently during the post-match presentations, Samuels elaborated on his off-kilter decision to dedicate his match award to Shane Warne by saying: "I don't appreciate the way that he continues to talk about me, maybe it is because my face is real and his face is not."
Morgan, for his part, claimed not to have noticed any of West Indies' more provocative celebrations at the end of the contest, but reiterated his pride in his players and his belief that they would come back stronger after reaching a global final so early in their development as a team.
"Regardless of what happened today, today was about letting ourselves go out and play with the freedom that we have trusted ourselves with all tour," he said. "This is the beginning of something I am hoping will be special, we have a great amount of talent to work with and I hope we can keep this group of players together as long as we can and look to the future.
"It takes some beating, definitely," he added. "But I personally think we will [come back]. This side is at the very beginning of its progression, it's actually frightening to think what we can do if we achieve our potential, but certainly tonight we share the pain."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket