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England's Hopes Gone With The Windies

What an amazing day at The Oval as a tournament that had almost died on its feet suddenly came to life at 4.30 on Saturday afternoon.

The ICC Champions Trophy ended in spectacular style with a win for the West Indies thanks to a record-breaking partnership between Courtney Browne and Ian Bradshaw.

All looked won for England when the ninth wicket pair came together still needing almost 80 to win.  I thought our 217 on a day made for bowlers - cold, damp, low cloud and a seaming ball - was probably 30-40 too many for Brian Lara's side.

It was not to be and for the simple reason that neither Browne nor Bradshaw panicked as they chased an unlikely target.  They picked up the 1's and 2's and occasional boundary and eventually reached the target with 7 balls to spare.

After Marcus Trescothick made a century which made a mockery of the conditions and our seamers ripped out the cream of West Indies talent all that seemed left was for the fat lady to sing.
But rarely if ever have I seen too lower order batsmen bat with such restraint and responsibility.  They had a plan to see off our pace aces Harmison and Flintoff and stuck to it.   It was a fantastic effort considering that the light was almost black and the balls were coming at them at 95mph.

There was no reason for England to beat themselves up over the defeat. It was just a day to give credit to the opposition and reflect on a season which was full of bright spots.

Captain Michael Vaughan was right to get his players into a huddle immediately afterwards and I am sure he told them just to remember what a great year it has been for English cricket and to leave the field withtheir heads high.

What a difference a year has made and you can see in the way England now play the game what giant strides they have taken. 

You can see it in their confidence and in how they view no situation as being irretrievable. That is not something that can be said of many England sides over the past decade.

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