Bold selection policy and the confidence instilled by their captain were responsible for a triumph in the Caribbean, writes Ahmed Rizvi
To appreciate the merits of this England side, you have to look at their defiant captain. Paul Collingwood's unrelenting spirit has permeated through the entire squad. There is no outward brashness, but confidence resides deep in the hearts. Of course, there is no shortage of talent. Michael Lumb, Craig Kieswetter, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Graeme Swann could walk into any side. But when Lumb and Kieswetter (and Michael Yardy as well) were picked for the World Twenty20, many eyebrows were raised. Some branded the decision as foolhardy, but Andy Flower backed those men, gave them the freedom and confidence to play their game. That is the essential difference between this team and those of the past - emphasis on continuity and a break with conservatism. Being bold paid off for this England.
Biggest hit The player of the tournament, Kevin Pietersen, of course. Two consecutive man of the match awards in the Super Eights and two outstanding knocks after his trans-Atlantic trip back home for the birth of his first child. Biggest disappointment Difficult to pick one after the way England have performed as a unit, but Tim Bresnan (3-158) could have done a little better with the ball.
Like Michael Clarke humbly conceded, Australia lost to a better side in the final. It was their only defeat of the tournament, but will probably raise a few questions about their T20 team moving forward. Clarke, in all probability, will be under pressure to vacate the captain's spot in favour of someone like Cameron White. Michael Hussey's place in the batting lineup should also start a few debates. It is OK to keep "Mr Dependable" lower in the order in 50-over cricket, but in T20 he is left with little time. A miracle like their win over Pakistan will not happen every time.
In the tournament itself, Australia probably suffered from a lack of competition and gained a false sense of invincibility. Before the final, five of their six games were against teams from the subcontinent; the other was in the West Indies. Sheer pace worked against them. It is never an asset in T20 cricket and Australia were left with no Plan B against England. Biggest hit Michael Hussey. To get 188 runs from the No 7 spot in T20 cricket is no mean achievement. And his 24-ball 60 in the semi-finals is going to stay in memories for a long time. Biggest disappointment Clarke. Knowing his form, he should probably have demoted himself behind the Husseys and Cameron White. Despite his captaincy, he perhaps missed a trick there.
The last World Twenty20's losing finalist hardly looked a team capable of matching their previous feat. They had too many passengers in the side - Sanath Jayasuriya, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Ajantha Mendis - but few match winners.
Mahela Jayawardene carried the team on the might of his silky willow, while Angelo Matthews battled alone in the last two games. The loss of Muttiah Muralitharan to injury did not help their cause, and there was a lack of strategy as well. The use of 11 bowlers in six matches betrays that, and so does the appearance of Lasith Malinga at No 8. Given their lack of depth in batting and ammunition in attack, a semi-final appearance should be a reason to celebrate.
Biggest hitMahela Jayawardene. Without his 306 runs it would have been impossible for Sri Lanka to reach the last four. But he is unlikely to forgive himself in a hurry for the failure in the semis. Biggest disappointment Sanath Jayasuriya. It is time for him to permanently trade the dugout for the Sri LankanParliament. With 15 runs from six innings, he would do a service to his nation by not aiming for the 2011 World Cup
The defending champions, as is their specialty, exasperated and enthralled their fans in equal measure. Looking pedestrian for the first half of the tournament, they were on the verge of elimination in the Super Eights, but regrouped to bounce South Africa out. They found a few more of their missing gears against Australia and came really close to derailing the juggernaut from Down Under.
In the end, an unbelievable innings from Michael Hussey robbed them of their third successive appearance in a World T20 final. Coming to the tournament after probably one of the most turbulent times in Pakistan cricket, and missing the likes of Shoaib Malik and Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi's men can leave with their heads held high. Biggest hit Umar Akmal. Reaffirmed his status as one of the most exciting young talents of international cricket. His knocks against Australia and South Africa were two of the highlights of the tournament. Biggest disappointment Abdul Razzaq. A lot was expected from the all-rounder in the absence of some experienced performers. But with 69 runs and two wickets he was a let-down.
Pundits suggest South Africa's rigid tactics were the cause of their failure. That is not very far from the truth. The Proteas, with their military-style regime, do not really seem to grasp the finer points of T20 cricket, which entails spontaneity.
With a predictable bowling attack, they were never going to bother the better-equipped sides and their top-order batting was a tad too slow for this version of the game. As Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs laboured at the top with strike rates of less than 120, wasting powerplays, JP Duminy, Albie Morkel and Johan Botha - three of their better batsmen in this format - were left with few overs to make an impact.
Biggest hit Charl Langeveldt looked streets ahead of his compatriots with subtle variations that fetched 11 wickets at an average of 9.45. Biggest disappointment Has to be the captain. Smith should consider following Ricky Ponting's path, for he is not really a beacon in this version of the game.
Much has been made about India's inability to live with the short-pitched stuff. True, the batsmen did not acquit themselves well, but the cause of their disappointment in the Caribbean rests elsewhere. But surprisingly, no blame has yet been laid at the feet of the selection committee, who saddled the side with out-of-form players. There was no place for Robin Uthappa and Irfan Pathan, while Pragyan Ojha and Amit Mishra failed to find favour with them. Instead, Yuvraj Singh and Piyush Chawla, who struggled in the Indian Premier League, and Ravindra Jadeja, who missed it completely, were drafted in, leaving MS Dhoni with few options.
Biggest hit Ashish Nehra, ahead of Suresh Raina. Coming back from a long-injury lay-off, the seamer showed he can still deliver the goods. Raina, meanwhile, had two knocks of worth from five innings; a lot more was expected. Biggest disappointment Murali Vijay failed to bring his IPL form to the Caribbean. Hopefully, he is not one more of the domestic cricket bullies.
As Daniel Vettori pointed out, there were just not enough runs from the batsmen. Not one of them crossed the 100-run mark for the tournament and Brendon McCullum, with 94, was their highest scorer in the Caribbean. A lot more was expected from the swashbuckling opener, as well as Ross Taylor, who had an aggregate of just 75. Among others, Jesse Ryder had 93 and Martin Guptill scored 45 runs from four innings at a Test-like strike-rate of 69.23. Biggest hit Nathan McCullum. With more runs (57) than some of the frontline batsmen and seven wickets, he seemed to be the only Kiwi in some kind of form Biggest disappointment As the stats suggest, there are plenty of contenders, but Taylor tops them - purely for the promise that he brings
Playing at home, the West Indies were never mentioned as favourites and for good reason. Led by one of the coolest heads in the game, Chris Gayle, they simply lacked the fire to succeed. Few can doubt their potential, with Gayle opening the innings and Dwayne Bravo, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard to follow. But did they have the will or any kind of strategy? Pollard was wasted in the lower half of the order, save for one game. With the team think-tank firmly believing he is no good except in the last few overs of an innings, the rising star could get only 41 deliveries in five matches.
Biggest hit There was no real standout. Sammy did well in patches and Gayle had that one big knock against India. Biggest disappointment Shivnarine Chanderpaul - opening the innings, he did little of note, wasting his opportunities at one of the most coveted spots in Twenty20 cricket.
Afghanistan were the story in the early days of the tournament, the Cinderellas of the Caribbean. But then the clock struck midnight and the not-so-kind reality of international cricket dawned on the braves from the war-ravaged nation. Their bowlers, particularly Hamid Hassan, can return home with pride, but the batsmen have a long way to go before they start bothering top nations. Hassan took more wickets (four) than Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan combined, and conceded fewer runs (29) than Ravindra Jadeja did in six balls against Australia. Much was expected from Zimbabwe as well after victories over Australia and Pakistan in the warm-ups, but rain did not allow them an opportunity. Bangladesh showed no signs of improvement and Ireland can be happy with their performance against England with the ball.