OTD: Captain Morgan saw reasons to cheer despite final heartbreak

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Looking back now, with England having since won the 50-over World Cup, Eoin Morgan’s optimism in the wake of a heartbreaking World T20 loss was well placed.

Facing West Indies in the Kolkata final, England knew the title would be theirs if their opposition failed to score 19 off the last six balls of the match.

But, they suffered a stunning defeat as Carlos Brathwaite clubbed Ben Stokes for four successive sixes to seal an unforgettable West Indies win at Eden Gardens.

Eoin Morgan's faith was rewarded
Eoin Morgan’s faith was rewarded (Yui Mok/PA)

“I felt a range of different emotions, but this is the beginning of something I hope is going to be special,” he said at the time.

“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.

“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.”

Morgan was right, of course, but at the time, the pain of defeat was omnipresent, particularly for Stokes.

Stokes has been a rock for his country in the tournament, repeatedly sticking his hand up for the chaotic death overs, but he was left in a heap at Eden Gardens after being blitzed for four consecutive sixes in the last over of an unforgettable four-wicket win.

Brathwaite was unstoppable, smiting a leg-stump delivery over fine leg then unloading three mighty blows down the ground to make short work of the 19 needed to win.

Within a matter of seconds England had gone from champions-elect to extras in the West Indies’ cabaret and the burden appeared to weigh heavy on Stokes as he struggled to lift his weary body from the turf.

“Cricket can be a cruel game. This is not Ben’s fault, we’re all in this together,” said Morgan.

“But it’s quite simple from my point of view: he is going to be devastated.

“It’ll take its toll in the next couple of days but we share everything we do, we stick together as a side.

“We share pain, we share the success. I hope in the future we have a lot more success and, personally, I think we will have but tonight we share the pain.

“I’m not quite sure what I’m feeling at the moment…not sure it’s actually happened.”

Stokes took to Twitter after the dust had settled on a remarkable evening in Kolkata, writing: “Overwhelmed by all the support of everyone after a disappointing last over…..So proud to of represented my country in a World Cup final.

“To everyone who has supported us thank you very much you’ve been awesome…congrats to the West Indies on winning a great final.”

Morgan absolved not only Stokes but the rest of his attack of any blame, with David Willey a clear standout with figures of three for 20 in four overs.

Instead he felt the initiative was really surrendered in the first innings, where England suffered a slow start before Joe Root’s half-century lifted them to 154 for six.

On the other side, Marlon Samuels, whose 85 not out in 66 balls provided the foundation for Brathwaite’s brutal cameo, took the man-of-the-match award.

He conducted his entire post-match press conference with his feet raised and crossed on the top table and took the opportunity to throw a few digs in Stokes’ direction.

The pair memorably clashed in the Caribbean during 2015’s Test series – Samuels saluting the all-rounder after he was dismissed in Grenada and earning a few industrial words by way of riposte.

“Stokes is a nervous lion,” said Samuels.

“What I told Brathwaite is just hold his pose and he is going to bowl a couple of full tosses, as always. It worked in our favour and Brathwaite played a brilliant knock to give me a little break at the end.”

Stokes went on to win the World Cup in 2019
Stokes went on to win the World Cup in 2019 (Scott Heppell/PA)

“He doesn’t learn,” added Samuels, picking up where an ill-tempered match left off.

Fortunately for England, Stokes did learn and, in 2019, the prize was theirs.

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