Three innings into this World Twenty20 campaign, England looked almost out of semi-final contention. After being sent on a leather hunt by Chris Gayle, South Africa compounded their woes with a clinical batting performance to set them the highest target of this tournament.
Surprising perhaps even themselves, England chased down that target. Since then, there hasn’t been any looking back for England.
A reversal like this, just a year after losing all their World Cup group league matches against the Test nations, deserves credit.
Joe Root, England’s best batsman in all formats, believes sticking to their stand even in a losing cause, has helped them stay on track. “I don’t think there has been an attitude swing (after their first loss to West Indies) or the way we approached practice. We have stayed true to what we believe as a side and the way we wanted to play our cricket. The self-belief in each other and ourselves meant we could get that win against South Africa. We built confidence from that point onwards,” said Root before England headed out for their training session at the Eden Gardens.
Root feels one of the key factors behind England’s turnaround has been Eoin Morgan’s captaincy. Morgan was given the England captaincy quite controversially after Alastair Cook was removed from the post just two months before the 2015 World Cup. And though it left Morgan with little time to make an impact on the tournament, his ways are being slowly appreciated by a cricket system that was traditionally obsessed with success in Tests.
“I think his captaincy has been fantastic across ODI and T20 cricket. We have chosen his way and approach that probably has been a shift for us and we stuck to our guns. We have kept wanting to improve and when it’s wrong we have not taken a step back but looked forward all the time. That’s something we have to continue to do. We have still got a very inexperienced side that’s willing to learn,” he said.
Getting a coach like Trevor Bayliss who has had huge success in the Big Bash League or the IPL further allowed England to invest more in Twenty20s. It won’t be far off the mark to presume that Bayliss has been instrumental in giving the England batting order a much-needed shorter format tuning.
“He has been great throughout. He has got an emotionless face whether we are in front or massively behind in a game. You never get any sort of tension or emotion from him. He is always calm and relaxed about everything. Especially in a final, it’s very important to have a calm head within the dressing room that can sometimes bring you back down when you get too high,” said Root.