So it’s the Cornered Tigers against the Three Lions who have rediscovered their roar, just in time for the final of this Twenty20 World Cup tomorrow.
And what a roar it was from England in Adelaide to India, a roar that reverberated in the cricketing world and surely would have been heard loud and clear by Pakistan.
England had barely caught their breath after that seismic semi-final on Friday when they headed to Melbourne for a rematch, 30 years later, of Imran Khan’s best hour in winning the 50-over World Cup for Pakistan in the MCG.
Alex Hales hopes to complete his England redemption story on Sunday with a World Cup
England play in a final thirty years after losing the 50-over World Cup to an Imran Khan-inspired win in Pakistan
A smiling Alex Hales was asked in the wake of his extraordinary match-winning innings against a stunned India how much he knew about that first World Cup tournament played in colored clothes in 1992.
“I was three years old, so not much,” said Hales, who has thoroughly justified his recall here after more than three years in the international wilderness. “Pakistan has won,” he was told. “Well, hopefully we can turn that around then,” he replied.
England are sure to win, weather permitting, if Hales and Jos Buttler come close, as well as in those performances over the centuries at the Adelaide Oval. A display of mind-boggling beating that was extraordinary even by England’s modern standards.
For Hales in particular, his 86 out of 47 balls with seven sixes was certainly his song of redemption, the moment when three and a half years of frustration in exile, admittedly largely of his own making, was performed on a shattered India.
Alex Hales hit 86 of his 47 balls in the semi-final win over India, including seven sixes
Not that he was in the mood yesterday to revisit his feelings about that dumping by Eoin Morgan and England’s senior players as details emerged of a second failed drug test, a crime too many for a player who appears to be through trouble. followed .
“I don’t think so,” Hales insisted when asked if he was thinking of missing out on England’s legendary 2019 World Cup triumph as he slammed India to all parts of Adelaide.
“I don’t think about that when I’m in the middle of it. I’m just playing again with a smile on my face in an England shirt and if I can leave with a World Cup winner’s medal that would be very special. I don’t play the game to think about redemption or anything like that.’
Perhaps, but anyone involved with Hales remembers one that looked like it would never happen when he was initially dropped from the England squad, deserving credit for drawing a line under his absence when Jonny Bairstow was on a golf course slipped and seriously broke his leg. leg.
Hales and Jos Buttler celebrate Pakistan’s memorable semi-final victory at the World Cup
Coach Matthew Mott admitted yesterday that bringing Hales back was a gamble, especially as it quickly became apparent that he had barely rebuilt his bridges with Ben Stokes following their joint involvement in the Bristol incident, which could have ruined the careers of both. to end.
“I know Jos has called a few people and consulted with them,” said the man who could become the second Australian after Trevor Bayliss to coach England to a World Cup.
“I definitely called Trevor about how he thought Alex would fit in the side again and he gave him a glowing review. So for us it was all about him coming back and performing. From the moment he returns to the squad, he is just himself and relaxed. He plays a lot of golf, which has been good for him. He was great to have around.”
Now comes the time when England could become the first side to unite the 50-over and T20 world titles, so long as a tournament that has been synonymous with a combination of bad weather and unpredictable cricket does not reach a soggy anti-climax.
England’s Matthew Mott took a gamble to bring Alex Hales back into the international fold
The forecast for tomorrow in Melbourne has been dire all week, but it has improved as the final approaches and there should be plenty of time, at least over two days, of the 10 overs needed to get a game into the to form a final. .
As an added precaution, ICC organizers have extended the hours for Monday’s reserve day and will restart the final at 3 p.m. local time if it is impossible to play a match tomorrow.
One can only hope it doesn’t come to that, as England’s moment seems to have come, just as it did when, like here, they had to win all their last four matches in the 2019 World Cup to win the tournament.
They have now won three here and while they are sure to be without the injured Mark Wood and Dawid Malan again tomorrow, they are big favorites to add that all-important fourth.
England fans will be hoping for similar celebrations from the players on Sunday night in Melbourne before the final
“When you get into a group, it can take time to build relationships,” says Mott, who had a tough first summer as a whiteball coach. “But even when we were struggling, there was a camaraderie in the group and the players looked after each other.
“I think the team lost a little bit of its mojo and a little bit of swagger, which can happen when you have leadership changes.
‘Now we are back where we want to be. The team trusts each other’s games, as you saw in Adelaide. So we’re going into this final with confidence, but we know we’re playing against a good Pakistani team on the run, so we won’t take anything for granted.”
This must be the time of England and Alex Hales. He will certainly leave, if a full match is possible, with that winner’s medal to finally make up for the bad times that nearly engulfed him.