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'If you'd said four years ago I'd be a World Cup winner now, I might not have believed you'

Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan and other England players recount the thrilling World Cup final at Lord's

England's World Cup winners with Prime Minister Theresa May outside 10 Downing Street, London, July 15, 2019

England's World Cup winners pose with Prime Minister Theresa May outside 10 Downing Street  •  AFP/Getty Images

England are finally World Cup winners after a dramatic tie with New Zealand at Lord's. The players and coach recount the hard work that went into winning the trophy, and the roller-coaster ride of the last few moments of the final.
Eoin Morgan: The defeat to New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup was as close to rock bottom as I've been. Certainly as a captain and as a player. Being beaten off the park like that is humiliating. One of those moments that will stand out forever in my life as a day where I was devastated not only with the way we performed but also the way we carried ourselves.
But the influence of New Zealand throughout that whole World Cup on all the other teams around the world was extreme. New Zealand proved that you can actually be really good humans and grow the game and play cricket in your own way and win at the same time. It was incredibly eye-opening for a lot of countries around the world. I thought that rubbed off on everybody at the World Cup.
Joe Root: If you'd said four years ago I'd be a World Cup winner now, I might not have believed you. But what a journey. What a tournament. What a day! That was probably the best game of all time.
Trevor Bayliss: I wasn't sure it was possible for England to win the World Cup when I started, but I thought I'd give it a go. I knew they desperately wanted to do better and that no stone would be left unturned in an effort to get that World Cup. Fairly early on I could see it would be possible. The main plan was to let them go out and test the ceiling of how good they could be. We knew they would lose games and probably lose some games badly. But you only get better from making mistakes and seeing how well you can play. Learn from those mistakes over a period of four years to get it right. The talent of the team was obvious very early on.
Liam Plunkett: I played against Ross Taylor in the first World Cup I played, in 2007, and now, in the blink of an eye, I am playing him at Lord's. As soon as I came up the hill from the Nursery End, I felt comfortable attacking the crease. It felt a lot better.
Kane [Williamson] is a massive player, so to get his wicket was nice. It's what I pride myself on: to get that wicket and not go for many runs. I was satisfied but I knew the job was half-done.

The Buttler-Stokes partnership

Jos Buttler: We knew we just had to bat some time. In one-day cricket recently, that hasn't been the mode of operation. But we knew if we batted for 50 overs we should be there or thereabouts. I was disappointed we weren't both there at the end to finish it off. But we knew we just had to build a partnership. As we saw in New Zealand's innings, the wicket eased after the first ten overs.
Ben Stokes: I think the only time I really thought about it was the second to last ball. All I could think about was Bangladesh in the World T20 when they needed the same and they just hit it in the air. All I was thinking was: "Don't get caught. Try and get one and get it to a Super Over at least." Then if I hit it into a gap, maybe we could get two. That was my process: just don't hit it in the air and get caught. I was thinking, "Don't try and be a hero and do it with a six." I wish it had gone for two and hadn't come to that because my emotions were high. I wasn't best pleased with myself walking back to the changing rooms for that ten-minute turnaround.
Bayliss: In one way, we have been practising for the last four years to play on flat decks. There were games where we lost badly on wickets that were doing a little bit. But the players have grown, they have learnt from those bad games and been able to play some smart cricket and adjust to wickets with a little bit in them.
Stokes: That's not the way I wanted to do it - the ball going off my bat like that. I apologised to Kane Williamson.
Plunkett: When those overthrows went four, it changed the tide.
Jonny Bairstow: I did think the game had gone. But it ebbs and flows, doesn't it? I said to Nathan [Leamon], our analyst, with seven overs to go, "We need three sixes here." When Stokesy dived and it deflected for four, that was the third six. Then we looked at each other and went: "Okay, we've got our three sixes!"
Joe Root: You always think if you just get one over the ropes, the pressure is all back on the bowler. As soon as that happened and you get the fortune of the overthrows, it's all in your hands again. It was hard to watch in the dressing room again.
Morgan: I wasn't quite sure what had happened, to start with. He dived and there was dust everywhere and the ball deflected. I was trying to stay in the moment. I wasn't celebrating. It is not something you celebrate or cheer. It could be us on the other side of it. It was about the finest of margins.
Stokes: I actually had to go and have five minutes to myself in the shower area of the changing room. I was pretty annoyed. I was angry. I had to get my head switched back on because I knew there was a job out there to do. I was full of adrenaline, so I needed to make sure my head was in the right place.
Morgan: We have worked extremely hard to get to the final and to play in a Super Over at the end of an extremely draining day takes a huge amount out of you. I encouraged them to smile, laugh, enjoy, because it was such a ridiculous situation. There was quite a lot of pressure in that particular moment. It was a matter of trying to put smiles on the guys' faces to release a bit of tension, and the guys responded brilliantly to that. It was about remaining calm and making sure we enjoyed it. Whether we won or lost, we had done incredible things.
Buttler: With the game being free-to-air, I hope many people around the country watched it. And I'm sure people who had never even watched cricket before, when they heard something called a Super Over was going, may have even switched on.
Jofra Archer: It was going fine until the six. Ben Stokes told me: "Win or lose, today does not define you. Everyone believes in you." I knew that if we did lose, it wasn't the end of the world. I am glad that the guys look up to me and trust me to do it. The skipper really believed in me, even after the six. A lot of captains could have had their head in their hands, but he was really calm and really understanding.
Morgan: Jofra's an unbelievably talented player and he has an unbelievable repertoire of balls to bowl. We were trying to keep it simple and bowl yorkers the whole time until he bowled that short ball. So it was reaffirming what he was trying to do the whole time and that he was doing a great job.

The last ball

Bairstow: I wanted the ball to come to me in the field. I want every ball. I want to be a part of it. That's in my DNA. I'm just so happy that the throw [by Jason Roy] was half on target.
Buttler: I felt quite calm [as the keeper]. Obviously the consequences are much greater than anything you have been in before, but it's still a game of cricket. You are still doing the same things you have been doing for years and years. I just had to catch it and I had plenty of time to take the bails off.
Morgan: I knew the number of boundaries could be crucial before we took the field for the Super Over. When it got close to the chase we started refreshing our minds and communicated with Aleem Dar before we batted. The last ten minutes were worse than the 20 minutes leading it: getting that tight and losing a game like that is the worst. But the clarity in decisions came down to: Could Ben continue to bat? Did he still have the energy? And then taking into account which end they might choose to bowl from and coming up with the best left-right hand combination.

The end

Bairstow: It was ridiculous, genuinely ridiculous. You saw the last World Cup; you saw the transition we've had as a group of people. The ins and outs, the ups and downs that you get along the way. Wow. There's never going to be a game like that ever in history ever again.
Plunkett: What a day. It has changed the history of English cricket and everyone got to watch it. I hope everyone loves it like when we won the Ashes [in 2005]. But even if we didn't win the World Cup, it would have still be a journey. We have been amazing. We have changed the culture of cricket in England. People expect us to win, which is a lot different from a few years back.
Bairstow: I've been through quite a bit. Of course, there are things that are tougher to go through than that but the intensity of it was huge. People said it was written in the stars. Dad was there; Grandpa was there. Yeah, it was awesome.

Morgan as England captain

Buttler: He is the best captain we've ever had and all of us love playing under him. We are all very hopeful [he will continue]. There is no reason to stop, is there? There is plenty of life in him yet, I hope.
Bayliss: He has been at the forefront. There have been a lot of people involved - especially Andrew Strauss in the early days - but Morgs is the leader of not just the guys on the pitch, he is the leader off the field as well. He is the one who has really driven this going forward. I think the rest of the boys try and run through a brick wall for him. The effort that Stokes put in was just an example of that.
Morgan: I haven't looked beyond this. Four years is a long time away. I think the big question I will have to answer is: Will I be in the team in four years? Will I be good enough? These guys are improving very quickly. Will I be able to keep up with them?

The celebrations

Bayliss: There was a lot of singing, as the English like to do. They can string a few words together, unlike the Aussies, who just go "Oi, Oi, Oi"! Experiencing that in the changing rooms with not just the boys but their wives, their children, their parents and brothers and sisters, it was a great family feel. To see the joy on the boys' faces and the way they celebrated was all worth it.
Woakes: I think some of the guys got no sleep. We take for granted turning up to Lord's. But for the families to see that was really special. It was nice to share that moment with them.
Bairstow: I was thinking how long I'd known Rooty. I was remembering sharing fish and chips with Rash [Adil Rashid] when I was 15. He was playing England Under-19s then, and all of a sudden, I started playing for Yorkshire U-17s as a 15-year-old. And now we've just won a World Cup.
Morgan: To me, the team and everybody who has been involved over the last four years, it means absolutely everything. But I definitely feel empathy for New Zealand. They have actually been through a better tournament than we have. We got the rub of the green. New Zealand, throughout the group stages, were absolutely outstanding and in the semi-final were very ruthless in playing against India. I think the most admirable thing is the way they played their cricket. They are the best and they do it in a fashion that you'd have no qualms in turning around to your kid and saying, "Please idolise these guys, they are very admirable." They are.

On Stokes' contribution

Bayliss: What he did was extraordinary. He has a zest for life. He is a leader of people on the field and off it. People gravitate to him. Everyone in the team is so happy for him. If there was one guy who could come back from the sort of adversity… he is that one guy. He has a belief in his own ability and the rest of the players have a belief in his ability as well. It was great that he was able to take advantage of that and take hold of it. I don't want this taken out of context, but he is a real fighter.
Morgan: He's almost superhuman. A lot of careers would have been ended after what happened in Kolkata [in the 2016 World T20 final against West Indies]. Ben, on numerous occasions, has stood up individually and in a unit for us. He leads the way in training, in any team meetings, and he's an incredible cricketer. He really carried the team and our batting. I know Jos and his partnership was extraordinary, but to bat with the lower order the way he did was incredible. The atmosphere, the emotion - he managed to deal with that in an extremely experienced manner. And obviously everybody watching at home will hopefully try and be the next Ben Stokes.

The future for England

Root: Winning the World Cup and Ashes would be the pinnacle. It's what we set out to do two or three years ago. And we're halfway there.
Bayliss: There's still six very important matches to go in this summer. We won't be taking the foot off the pedal. For me, the Ashes win four years ago was just as big as this and hopefully there's another one in a few weeks' time.
Morgan: I hope my life hasn't changed that much. I lead quite a quiet one, so I hope it hasn't changed too much.
Stokes: We may be world champions but we want to be Ashes winners as well.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo