England v West Indies, ICC World Twenty20, Lord's

An honourable exit

England may have lost to West Indies, but plenty of positives can be taken from the World Twenty20 as they finally fix both their eyes on the impending Ashes

Andrew Miller at The Oval

June 15, 2009

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Ravi Bopara unleashes the strongest of cuts, England v West Indies, ICC World Twenty20, The Oval, June 15, 2009
Ravi Bopara top-scored for England, despite their defeat, and his form - as well as Kevin Pietersen and the seam-bowlers - are positives they can carry into the Ashes © Getty Images

The end, when it came, was cruel but apposite. England's dominance of West Indies this summer had been so absolute that, at times at venues such as Chester-le-Street and Bristol, their very future as an international outfit had been called into question by a doom-mongering press. But, for the only nine overs that mattered out of a cast of hundreds since the start of May, West Indies found the focus they so dearly needed to dump the hosts out of the World Twenty20.

For England's captain, Paul Collingwood, however, recriminations were pointless. His team did not help themselves by failing to score a boundary for the best part of ten overs, but after their remarkable victory over India, their bid for a semi-final berth was always going to depend on the ability of their bowling attack, bulked out by the addition of Adil Rashid, to reproduce the hostility and focus that had secured their defence of 153 at Lord's on Sunday night.

By the time the rains closed in, however, the subtlety of their selection was lost in a melee of big hits, and a target of 80 in nine overs was always going to favour the chasing team. England tried their hardest and gave a frenzied crowd plenty reason to believe, especially when West Indies slipped to 45 for 5 with four overs remaining, but in the end it was simply not to be.

"I'm very proud of the guys, to be honest with you," said Collingwood. "The way they've fought through the tournament, it's been a roller-coaster ride. At one point we had a real chance to win it, and to get into that position shows our real character, as it's not easy to defend a target off nine overs. A lot of positives come out of the whole tournament - maybe the consistency wasn't there, but we are definitely improving."

Collingwood's pride was not misplaced, in spite of a tournament record (LWLWL) that reflects England's enduring frailties in the format. For a team that tasted humiliation on the opening night of the competition to come so close to the semi-finals represents a triumph of the pyrrhic variety. England are still naïve in 20-over cricket as their batting performance showed, but at least they are no longer aloof to the format's charms.

"We're catching up, that's the important thing," said Collingwood. "Even with that lack of experience in Twenty20 cricket, we're catching up with the skills and thought processes, and we're understanding situations and pressures. We need a lot more time to get accustomed to the conditions, and it is very important that you do play more Twenty20 cricket if you want to be realistic about winning these competitions, but the boys can take a lot of credit."

England didn't look like emerging with anything remotely positive after their disastrous opening fixture against the Dutch, but with the benefit of hindsight, Collingwood conceded that the brutality of that reality check had been exactly what his players needed. The constant need to battle back, first against Pakistan and then later in another do-or-die encounter with India, brought the players closer to their public, and more importantly, closer to each other.

"When you hurt like that it hurts everyone in the dressing room," said Collingwood. "You can either go one way - fragment, go into corners and start whispering - or come together as a real close-knit unit, and that's what we did, and I'm real proud of the guys because it would have been easy to go the other way.

"Sometimes these things are real blessings in disguise," he added. "It didn't feel it at the time, it was very disappointing, but what we produced after that, the performances against India and Pakistan, proved that when we get it right we can play really good Twenty20 cricket. It would have been easy to lie down and lose confidence, but it was the complete opposite. We kept bouncing back and showed a lot of character.

"Even that first game against the Netherlands, we were all disappointed to lose it but it was an exceptional game. The people who've watched back home and turned up at the grounds have seen some excellent cricket, and from our point of view we've developed some great skills, both before and during the tournament. Being exposed to Twenty20 has been good. And we are getting better at this form of the game."

For now, however, the focus switches with dramatic haste to the great unmentionable challenge that lies ahead. For weeks and months, England have desperately tried not to utter the A word in public, but now - with an honourable exit from the World Twenty20 secured - that embargo can now be lifted. "The boys have been 100% focussed on this," said Collingwood, "but now it really is time to get the bodies, the minds and the skills right to beat the Aussies in the Ashes."

To that end, Collingwood's interim tenure as captain has, somewhat remarkably after the early impressions, turned out to be a success. Sometime next week, he will formally hand the leadership back to Andrew Strauss, with most of the key components of England's Ashes campaign in fine fettle despite their tournament exit. Ravi Bopara's form shows no sign of waning, Kevin Pietersen's Achilles issues are not hindering his run-scoring, while the key trio of seamers - Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom - are all at something close to the top of their game. There's even been the bonus of the successful blooding of Adil Rashid.

"I guess part of my job as captain was to keep the same kind of team ethos," said Collingwood. "Straussy hasn't been involved, so my job was to keep the togetherness, and to back each other up as players. We've continued to do that, and we've grown stronger throughout the tournament. Thankfully when I give the reins back to Straussy the boys will be in good spirits and determined to do well. Although we got beaten today and knocked out of the tournament, I think the boys are focussed on what's coming ahead."

As for his future as England's Twenty20 captain, Collingwood was non-committal.

"I've enjoyed it," he said. "There've been ups and downs, but this time I can safely say I've been very calm and played with a smile on my face, and I've enjoyed the tough situations. I don't know what the future holds, Straussy comes back in now, and I'll look forward to doing my normal job in the Test side. But I've thoroughly enjoyed the captaincy, because I've had a group of lads who've put 100% into the tournament."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by muttley1 on (June 16, 2009, 15:46 GMT)

I dont know about an honourable exit? particularly given most of the Sky tv pundits for example, fancied England's 11 over the Windies line up. What is surely a little unfair is the targets set in such contests? Seemingly no account is given to wickets, would it not be fairer to set a target then automatically take say three or four wickets from the chasing side before they begin? It is highly unlikely anybody is going to be bowled out in 9 overs! therefore the chasing side has licence to literally throw the bat at even more balls than they normally would, as they have nothing to fear. It is also quite easy to argue that England may have approached their batting somewhat differently if they thought they were in a full 20-20 contest? - No sour grapes, just think the rules are wrong! - good luck to WI.

Posted by AJ_Tiger86 on (June 16, 2009, 13:56 GMT)

England should win the Ashes 5-0. They have got a devastating bowling attack. On the other hand, Australia's bowling attack is probably ranked no. 7 or 8 in the world right now. I think Adil Rashid will be a better option than Monty. Anderson, Broad, Sidebottom, Freddie, Swann and Rashid is too good a bowling attack for the Australian batsmen to handle.

Posted by JulesUK on (June 16, 2009, 13:06 GMT)

I like Collingwood, but I hope this is the last we see of him in the T20 team. His fielding is still pretty good despite his age. However his batting isn't up to it in this format. He struggles to hit big shots and is a weak link in the middle order just when some big hitting is usually required. His bowling is nothing special and his captaincy is turgid. Bring in Napier for the T20s v the Aussies at the end of the summer and make KP or Bopara T20 captain.

At least the bowlers generally did well, especially the seamers, faced as they were every game with defending totals that were too low.

Posted by surreyranger on (June 16, 2009, 10:54 GMT)

All the points raised below are valid, but surely the whole affair shows that cricket has lost none of its ability to shoot itself in the foot on the big occcasion. With 23,000 people in, at a ground fitted with floodlights, and millions more (I assume) watching on TV, a key game in a prestige tournament comes down to a nine-over thrash. What sort of game is that? Yes, I'm an England fan, but this isn't sour grapes - good luck to the Windies for the rest of the tournament.

Posted by rumcork69 on (June 16, 2009, 10:30 GMT)

Having watch the standford t20 in the West Indies on a flat pitch, I must say Chris Gayle did well after losing his strike baller by removing the pace off the ball early in the innings, and England was at a lose after losing their t20 batsmen Bopara, Wright and Peterson. Well done West Indies !!!

Posted by HadgraftsHeros on (June 16, 2009, 10:24 GMT)

Being fortunate to be at the game last night, I was very proud of the England performance. In fact, both teams gave their all and showed such passion that showed T20 is now very important to players and fans alike. Duckworth-Lewis is what it is and had it been the other way round (WHY choose to bat with rain on the way, Colly ??) the West Indies would have had to deal with it.... but SURELY wickets need to be reduced to make it a fair chase. Chasing 80 off 9 with 6 wickets available would have meant that the West Indies would have been under pressure when reduced to 45 for 5, but they could simply keep hitting all the way to the death. A defeat for England but a victory for T20 as it was a great day, great atmosphere..... as a cricketing "purist" I've never been a fan of T20 but I'm warming to it rapidly if it keeps providing this level of drama and entertainment.

Posted by ReidytheKing on (June 16, 2009, 10:24 GMT)

That was no honorable exit, it was England at their very best in T20.Why, when they were clearly lacking firepower in the middle order, was Graham Napier sat on his backside on the bench? And why didn't Graeme Swann get a bash up the order? The early exit should come as no surprise, considering it's took the best part of 30 years for them to get to grips with ODI cricket.

Posted by Jimmers on (June 16, 2009, 9:49 GMT)

The Duckworth Lewis calculations are always going to favour the team batting second in these situations, but it's up to the team batting first to post a decent total in the first place. 160 was never going to be enough, rain or no rain.

I think the selection may have let England down more than anything. Luke Wright has looked out of his depth since the Pakistan game and should have been replaced either with Napier for his big hitting, or Key for his experience and T20 nouse in the field.

The boys on the field did their best with what they had to work with, and I don't think there's any shame in going out the way they did; it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the Windies go all the way if the planets align for them.

Posted by Sanjiyan on (June 16, 2009, 9:36 GMT)

I like the way England are talking themselves up. Fact remains that in a game that they have invented they dont have the quality to really trouble the worlds best, regardless of the form. Everyone is raving about the 'venom' the bowling attack has..but if it really is that venomous why cant they defend a 'low' total?

The hiding South Africa gave them(and the beating the received from the Windies) is a truer reflection on where they stand..Beating India was only a question of explioting a weakness exposed by the Windies. Copycats at best.

Bring on the ashes..i cant wait to see Mitchell blow the english away!

Posted by stuartk319 on (June 16, 2009, 9:33 GMT)

Even as an Aussie, who acknowledges the sound hiding dished out by a very good WI 20/20 team; I must agree with Pragmatist - 90 is way too low as a 9 over total & 110 would have been pretty well on the mark. Lets get D&L to work their actuarial analysis on 20/20 games and come up with a suitable resource table.

Posted by ShortMemory on (June 16, 2009, 9:01 GMT)

Go forward 20 years. England will still have its honourable exits from these tournaments and catching up on the formats ! And talking about taking the positives to Ashes tour.

Posted by Gazzypops on (June 16, 2009, 8:42 GMT)

I agree that this was an honourable exit (many other England sides would have rolled over a lot sooner), especially as Duckworth-Lewis has a tendency to set generous start-of-innings targets in Twenty20 (perhaps something that should be looked at, if anyone understands how the system works!). Still, how can we be so inconsistent? Even in this match, we batted well for the first half and poorly for the second. Similarly, when it came to bowling - the first half was excellent, the second half lost the match. Perhaps we should look to put the other side in, as chasing in Twenty20 appears to be slightly easier in tight games. England should also have blooded Graham Napier to give the middle order added impetus. Best of luck to the Windies - no matter how poorly they play elsewhere, they have a knack of going a long way in big tournaments and could still go all the way. At least KP can rest his heel for an extra week now...!

Posted by SettingSun on (June 16, 2009, 8:05 GMT)

To answer TequilaV's comment, domestically we do play more Twenty20 than anyone else. But the fact that most of these players miss most of the Twenty20 season because they're on international duty means that they don't have the experience that the Indians have from weeks 'DLF Maximums' and Harsha Bhogle chucking himself down a slide. Oh, and cricket.

Posted by wizman on (June 16, 2009, 7:40 GMT)

So if your team loses to WI in the first round you're a big loser (see: Australia) whereas if you lose to WI in the quarter finals (effectively) then it's an honourable loss.


Posted by maheshw2001 on (June 16, 2009, 7:15 GMT)

i think england truely had a Honorable Exit... they are not the T20 giants like the media is trying to blind everybody with their falls information. previous stats doesnt really count in T20 games because as far as i feel you have to live in the moment and act accordingly. thats exactly what England did they showed the world with courage how powerfull force they are when it comes to situations like that and unfortunately we will not be able to see their amazing ability to bounce back with superior quality of bowling attack. all the best with ashes guys and i am sure you will do well if you bowl like you did during T20.

Posted by Pegasus82 on (June 16, 2009, 6:49 GMT)

Can you really "take positives" from a T20 tournament into The Ashes? Did the West Indies "take negatives" into the T20 tournament after being demolished in the recent test series? It wouldn't seem that way. Apart from professional pride, I really don't think the Australians cried into their pillows much after being dumped out of this tournament early. T20 World Cup is hardly even the intro music to the main event of The Ashes.

Posted by SlyMongoose on (June 16, 2009, 6:26 GMT)

I look at the bottom of the article and see "....UK editor of Cricinfo" and I look at the title of this article and see "An honourable exit" with reference to England....and I just laugh.

As a fan and supporter of West Indies cricket, I'm overjoyed the we have gotten the last laugh against England.

Your media has crucified us time and time again, but now that you've gotten a taste of humble pie, I hope you enjoy it.

So you won two tests and two ODI's....but alas, you failed to win when it mattered most.

Your so-called "punchbags" knocked you out of a World Cup in your own country....truly West Indies have won the real contest.

Posted by pragmatist on (June 16, 2009, 5:54 GMT)

What sort of Duckworth Lewis calculation was that??? I was expecting West Indies being set maybe 110 off 9 overs. I don't think Duckworth Lewis is suitable for teams chasing in a T20. Surely it was designed for 50 over matches? The wickets England took were totally irrelevant. Maybe it's sour grapes from an England fan, but I did feel that England were on a hiding to nothing last night. Great work from Foster, by the way - another great stumping showing the value of a proper 'keeper.

Posted by Chan_LANKAN on (June 16, 2009, 5:49 GMT)

Wooo Wooo Indians... guys.. hold on a second, Tired Indian team... ??? that is Inapplicable term buddy. Even Dhoni said tiredness is not an excuse for their exist. England boys balled well and they batted sensibly. This is cricket buddy not Rugby,And this is not five days test match to get that tired. Even Sri lankans and South Africans participated for the IPL.I think the most tired team should be South Africans. They were playing cricket whole year. Dhoni guided India to loose by sending inexperience jadeja at the top.. That was the reason to their lost. I really like indian cricket but, There is no excuse for their exist other than Dhoni`s captaincy. Take a look at the India - Bangladesh match again if possible and you`ll see the mistakes of dhonis from their as well.

Posted by Anand_8 on (June 16, 2009, 5:27 GMT)

England now-a-days is not a good team in any format of the game(T20,50ovrs& tests).They do not have any big hitting batsman nor any good bowler who has the signs of becoming a great like wasim or waqar.They just perform on one fine day & look as a good team.On a worse day,they perform the worst & look as a minnow.They are the ones who taught cricket to the world.To see them so inconsistent is a worrying aspect.Hope a better performance from them in this time's Ashes..!!

Posted by Gandalf_Eleven on (June 16, 2009, 5:22 GMT)

this article is a poor attempt by the writer to showcase english cricket in good light. With a loss to netherlands against its name, how can the english team claim to any honour? the writer is also dreaming about a possible Ashes victory. he would soon realize his folly.

Posted by Harsh_trulyindian on (June 16, 2009, 4:52 GMT)

Honourable exit?.. woo hoo... Don't try to save the face of English cricket. Yeah, English team played well on the other day against the tired Indians, especially Sidebottom. There was some firepower. But at the end of day, they are out of world cup.. And thats it! One more time, English cricket has failed to prove itself at big occasion...

Posted by TequilaV on (June 16, 2009, 1:26 GMT)

"England's Honorable Exit" just doesn't sound right. I read this article to see whether there is a viewpoint in here that I haven't read about, but alas I was disappointed. It turned out that this article is an attempt to Soothe the English Wounds form West Indies Shellacking in a Match That mattered the Most (West Indies Tour of England Probably pales in Comparison to a World Cup). Also, What I didn't quite comprehend is the Statement, England's Lack of Experience in Twenty20. Aren't English Players the ones who have Played Twenty20 the most? England was Disappointing in the Tournament, Lack of Big Hitters is where they should start working.

Posted by Lazys0d1990 on (June 16, 2009, 0:54 GMT)

Hopefully the Windies can start to translate their form from ODI and T20 to test cricket. As for England they're really gonna need to work hard before the tests. Bring on the ASHES!!!

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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Pakistan won by 8 wickets (with 8 balls remaining)
Sri Lanka v West Indies at The Oval - Jun 19, 2009
Sri Lanka won by 57 runs
Pakistan v South Africa at Nottingham - Jun 18, 2009
Pakistan won by 7 runs
India v South Africa at Nottingham - Jun 16, 2009
South Africa won by 12 runs
New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Nottingham - Jun 16, 2009
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