Well played England. In beating Australia today, they have won their first ICC trophy, and they also won it in style. For me, both England and Australia were the two strongest sides throughout the tournament and it was fitting that they met in the final.
Right from the start of the competition England got things right. The squad they selected was well balanced, it was identified early on that spin would play a key role, and some brave team selections were made that showed both Flower and Collingwood were not scared of making tough calls.
For a start the opening partnership looked like a bit of a gamble. Craig Kieswetter is a young man finding his feet at international level, and Michael Lumb was untested at this level of cricket.
It was also a big call to overlook James Anderson and go with the left arm swing of Ryan Sidebottom. All the cricket pundits were very surprised by the move and if things had got off to a bad start for Sidebottom you could imagine the uproar that would have emerged from this.
All these gambles paid off for Flower and Collingwood.
In the batting department England had Kevin Pietersen back at his best, he won the player of the tournament and was the second highest run scorer in the competition, his confidence looked back. Maybe the format suited him as he had licence to go out and play his shots.
Eoin Morgan also continued to show what a good limited overs player he is. He is growing in stature with every performance and is now looking one of the most dangerous one day batsmen in world cricket.
It was with the ball that England most impressed. The five man bowling unit worked brilliantly, with the swing of Broad, Bresnan and Sidebottom, complemented by the spin of Swann and Yardy.
Graeme Swann was as solid as ever, and his consistently impressive performances must now surely be pushing him into the realms of being talked about as a world class performer. His form can’t continue to be classed as a good run for much longer, eventually he has to be recognised as truely world class.
Michael Yardy was also tight with his bowling, the only time anyone got after him was in the final, which was in fact the only time any England bowler took any major stick throughout the whole competition.
Broad, Bresnan and Sidebottom were steady and disciplined throughout, their new slower ball bouncer seemed to confuse many a batsman. If I have one complaint, it is that they still don’t bowl enough yorkers. Thats being pretty fussy though.
All in all England not only won the tournament, they also showed drastic improvement in all disciplines. Not least in Paul Collingwoods captaincy.
He was reluctant to take the role to start with, but has now grown into the job and looked a totally different person to the forlorn looking figure he cut last June after he wrongly asked West Indies to bat first when there was rain in the air, a result which sent England crashing out at the group stages of the 2009 competition.
Lets hope this time that England see this as the start of a journey, rather than the end. The age of most of the team suggests they have quite a few good years left in the majority of them, so hopefully Andy Flower, with the help of Collingwood and Andrew Strauss (when the Tests resume) can continue to take this group of players forward.