Proud skipper Eoin Morgan has backed England to bounce back from the pain of defeat to the West Indies in the final of cricket‘s World Twenty20, saying his young side’s potential is “frightening”.
Speaking after a dramatic last-over defeat, Morgan said England would leave India with heads held high after coming so close to glory, only a year after their first-round exit in the 50-over World Cup.
And as he assessed the prospects of what was one of the youngest teams to have ever played for England, Morgan predicted the best was yet to come.
“This is the beginning of something I hope is going to be special,” Morgan told reporters at the Eden Gardens stadium.
“We have a great amount of talent to work with. Let’s hope we can keep this group of players together for a long time and look to the future.”
While eight of the West Indies starting XI are thirty-somethings, none of Morgan’s team is over the age of 30 and all can expect to be in contention for the next 50-over World Cup, which England are hosting in 2019.
The 29-year-old Morgan is the elder statesman in a formidable batting line-up that features the likes of Joe Root, Jason Roy and Jos Buttler who are all aged 25 and yet to reach their prime.
“I hope in the future we have a lot more success. Personally, I think we will,” said Morgan.
“This side is at the very beginning of its progression. It’s actually frightening to think what we can do if we achieve our potential.”
Under Morgan’s captaincy, England have shed their reputation for conservatism in limited overs cricket and have instead been encouraged by their skipper to play “brash and aggressive” cricket.
– ‘Sharing the pain’ –
That ethos was again on show at Eden Gardens when they refused to go into their shell despite losing three wickets inside the first five overs, with both Root and Buttler taking the attack to the West Indies.
The match was lost in the final over when the normally reliable Ben Stokes was clattered for four sixes in a row by Carlos Brathwaite.
Morgan admitted that 24-year-old Stokes was devastated but said the team was behind him all the way.
“We share everything we do, we stick together as a side. We share pain, we share the success,” added Morgan.
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain said Stokes would be “absolutely distraught” but backed both him and England to draw strength from adversity.
“He’ll learn from this and come back better and stronger, as will this England side,” Hussain wrote in the Daily Mail.
“They weren’t quite good enough but, crikey, they’ve been fun to watch and they’re playing proper, modern white-ball cricket. They’re certainly a side to invest in.”
Michael Vaughan, another former England captain, also said fans could expect to “see them in more finals in the future”.
“They have all the ingredients with a dangerous combination at the top, power throughout the order, bowlers who have grown into the job and players who love the big stage,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“They are young enough to move on and become stronger for this.”