England managing director Rob Key has backed his side to become one of the all-time great white-ball sides after their impressive T20 World Cup victory.
All-rounder Ben Stokes anchored a chase of 138 with an over to spare and posted an unbeaten 52 from 49 balls, seeing England claim a five-wicket win over Pakistan and become the first men’s side to hold ODI and T20 World Cups simultaneously.
The 50-over World Cup takes place in India next October and November, four years on from England’s dramatic victory at Lord’s, with Key admitting that their title defence will be a constant consideration when preparing for the build-up to the tournament.
“In the next planning now, we’ll work back from that 50-over World Cup like we did when we were picking teams in the summer and the Pakistan series,” Key told Sky Sports News. “Everything we do will just evolve now and be about trying to win out there [in India].
“If they [England] keep winning trophies then they could be one of the best we’ve seen – certainly one of the best cricket teams and one of England’s better sporting teams.
“It’s not the start of something, we’re right in the middle and there’s a lot of senior players now like Jos [Buttler], Mo [Moeen Ali] and Ben Stokes. It’s now about trying to maintain this with people coming through like Harry Brook and Sam Curran.
“If we can get that right over the next few years, then hopefully we’ll have some more success.”
What led to World Cup success?
Matthew Mott became the first coach to win World Cups in both the men’s and women’s game, having led Australia to Women’s ODI World Cup victory in April, with Key feeling the decision to split the coaching roles between the red-ball and white-ball squads has been justified.
“In a way that was an easy decision to make when you look at the schedule, Key added. “When the Test series was going on in the summer, all he [Mott] was thinking about white-ball cricket and how we win the T20 World Cup.
“All Brendon McCullum has been thinking about has been how do we win (the Test series) in Pakistan. We evidently had to go down that way because of what had happened before and the way the schedule, which has hopefully meant that we can become more consistent and win more trophies.”
On the role Key himself played in England’s World Cup success, he said: “I wouldn’t say I’m the mastermind behind it. Eoin Morgan, who was out there commentating working for Sky, has been a massive part of why they’ve done it.
“The same with Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott, how they’ve taken it on really, so full credit to them. Moeen Ali is also a massive part of that leadership group, so they’re the ones who have masterminded it really.
“Jos [Buttler] got every big decision right. That gut feeling that he has is incredible and that is what has got them there. They’ve been able to adapt and I think they’ve become more adaptable in this World Cup than we’ve seen England’s white-ball team. As good as they’ve been before, they’ve moved on and taken it up a notch.”
Could Stokes make a World Cup return?
The next 50-over World Cup comes four years on from Stokes playing a crucial role in an English victory, firing 84 not out before starring in their success via Super Over against New Zealand.
Stokes announced his retirement from international one-day cricket in the summer, describing the schedule of playing all three formats for England as “unsustainable”, although Key refused to rule out the possibility of him featuring in India.
“Nothing is forever, but who knows what will happen,” Key explained. “At the moment, we just try to enjoy what we’ve done and then we’ll think about Test cricket.
“Ben Stokes will be thinking about Test cricket, and I don’t want him to worry about anything else apart from what is in front of him now, which is the Test series in Pakistan. Then you’ve got New Zealand and then you’ve got Australia after that. He doesn’t have to worry about anything else – what will be, will be.
“I’ll have every conversation with anyone really, it doesn’t matter. I don’t think you ever rule anything out, but at the moment we’re just trying to enjoy what we’ve done so far. I’m sure he’s enjoying it as much as he possibly can.”
Watch England’s tour of Pakistan live on Sky Sports. Live coverage of the opening Test begins on Thursday December 1 from 4.30am on Sky Sports Cricket.