There is another England team who have captured the public’s imagination with their humble and carefree approach. This one, though, will have until next year to bring the World Cup home.
England’s white-ball cricketers reinvented themselves long before Gareth Southgate’s revolution that has football fans across the country daring to dream.
However, the progress of the No 1-ranked 50-over side is much further along than the T20 version on the evidence of this seven-wicket defeat in the series decider against India in Bristol.The three-match one-day series against Virat Kohli’s No 2-ranked team that starts at Trent Bridge on Thursday will be the real litmus test of England’s ambitions ahead of next year’s 50-over World Cup on home soil.
But after levelling up this T20 series in Cardiff last Friday, they fell short here as India chased down their target of 199 in 18.4 overs thanks largely to a brilliant unbeaten 100 from Rohit Sharma.
Whether or not this result will have an effect on England for the forthcoming ODIs remains to be seen.
Yet perhaps it is a sign of how far this team have come that their total of 198 for nine batting first was tinged with disappointment.
Another sign that they are a force to be reckoned with in white-ball cricket is the fact they are strong enough to drop Joe Root to accommodate the return of fit-again all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was back after six weeks out with a hamstring injury.Root will surely return for the one-day series, he is after all his country’s best all-format batsman.
But in T20 cricket his lack of power means he does not justify his place in the top six, especially given his recent run of poor form that has seen him go seven innings without a fifty.
Having reached the halfway point of their innings poised on 111 for two, they stalled in the second half as seven wickets fell for the addition of only 87 runs.
India – and Rohit – would ultimately make them pay.
England’s start was typically turbo-charged, though, as Jason Roy let loose on India’s shell-shocked bowling attack to bring up a power-packed half-century in just 23 balls.
Roy was eventually out for 67 from 31 balls, an innings that included an England record-equalling seven sixes, including one that was smashed so far it clattered into the window of the media centre.Indeed, Roy’s innings, which also included four fours, was littered with examples of his audacity and power. England’s hundred was brought up after 9.1 overs when Roy launched debutant seamer Deepak Chahar out of the ground.
He fell the next ball, caught behind attempting to steer the ball down to third man.
By that stage England were 103 for two having earlier lost Jos Buttler for 34 when he was bowled by Siddarth Kaul.
This was where things started to slow down for Eoin Morgan’s team as Hardik Pandya overcame the blow of seeing his first over disappear for 22 runs by taking four wickets in his next three at the cost of just 16.
Morgan and Alex Hales both fell to the seamer in the 14th over.
There were plenty of counter punches by England, too, especially from Jonny Bairstow, who despite being unbalanced somehow sent a wide Chahar delivery in the 15th over high over extra cover for six.Stokes produced another extraordinary shot in the next over when he ramped Umesh Yadav for four so late the stroke was positively posthumous.
England ended the 17th over on 175 for four and with Bairstow and Stokes well set. Pandya, though, had both caught in the space of three balls as the hosts slipped to 181 for six with two overs remaining.
While a total of 200 was always the aim on a pitch that was flatter than the nearby M4, England ultimately fell short.
India, whose players are so used to big T20 run chases in the IPL, started their reply confidently as Rohit took a leaf out of Roy’s playbook.
Yet Jake Ball produced a moment of magic – plucking an amazing catch out of the air at short fine leg off David Willey’s bowling – to get rid of Shikhar Dhawan.
Chris Jordan did something even more astonishing in the sixth over when he took a phenomenal catch running in from long on to dismiss KL Rahul off Ball’s second delivery of the match.
That left India 70 for two off the six-over powerplay, compared to England’s 73 without loss.
By the end of the 12th over India, with Rohit on 69 from 38 balls, were 125 for two and ahead of the required rate.
Jordan did take a smart return catch to dismiss Kohli in the 15th over to give England hope they could deny India the 48 runs they needed from the remaining 33 balls.
That 89-run third-wicket stand looked to have put this contest to bed.
And Rohit ensured there would be no late drama, reaching his century in the 19th over, India now just four away from a victory they clinched with eight balls to spare.