MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — England captain Jos Buttler believes Ben Stokes is “in the conversation” when it comes to considering the nation’s greatest ever cricketers after his stunning World Cup effort.
The 31-year-old steered England to a five-wicket triumph over Pakistan in the Twenty20 World Cup decider at the MCG on Sunday with an unbeaten 52 runs from 49 balls.
It follows his match-winning performance in London when England defeated New Zealand in the 50-over World Cup in 2019. Stokes is a champion in all three formats of the game.
“We are immensely lucky to have him. He is one of the great players of English cricket,” Buttler said.
“He is the ultimate competitor in anything he does. (He had) a hell of a lot of experience to bank on and he timed (his innings) perfectly.”
Buttler has only been England’s captain for four months and performed admirably throughout the World Cup.
He set the tone for the successful pursuit of a target of 138 with audacious batting at the top of the order when scoring 26 runs from 17 balls.
Despite the heroics of Stokes, the English captain credited his nation’s bowling attack for their efforts throughout the World Cup.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam believes his nation fell 20 to 30 runs short of a target they could defend when restricted to 137-8 by the quality and variety of England’s bowlers.
Left-arm pace bowler Sam Curran, who took 3-12 from four overs, was named both the player of the final and also the tournament after taking 13 wickets through the competition.
Leg spinner Adil Rashid, who finished with 2-22 from four overs, also bowled superbly when stifling Pakistan in the middle stages of their innings.
A jubilant Buttler also praised coach Matthew Mott, with the Australian completing a rare double with his adopted nation’s triumph over Pakistan.
The 49-year-old had previously coached Australia’s women to a stunning success over India in the women’s T20 World Cup at the MCG in 2020 before accepting the role with England in May this year.
With England considered the premier short-form cricket nation, Mott was under pressure to continue their success. As a result of their victory, England is the first nation to hold both World Cups in tandem.
Buttler said meticulous preparation, which included an away series triumph over Pakistan leading into the World Cup, built up England’s confidence.
England’s World Cup hopes hung in the balance after a shock loss to Ireland at the MCG in a rain-affected match in the group stages, but they held their nerve and rallied strongly.
“This is the icing on the cake to win the T20 World Cup. (I’m) just immensely proud,” Buttler said.
“Ever since the Ireland game, the way we showed great character in must-win games, we just got better and better.”
Azam, who made 32 runs from 28 balls when opening for Pakistan, said the knee injury that forced Shaheen Shad Afridi from the attack proved pivotal to the result.
Afridi started brilliantly when removing English opener Alex Hales in the first over but injured his knee when catching Harry Brook in the 13th over, forcing him to seek treatment.
On returning to the field, he was reintroduced into the attack with England requiring 41 runs from five overs but lasted just one ball before being forced off again.
Pakistan batter Shan Masood, who top-scored for his nation with 38 runs from 28 balls, said it was a disappointing moment for his team.
“That was one of the events (that mattered) but there were a lot of other moments that maybe we could have capitalized on,” he said.
“But yes, at the end of that crucial period when Shaheen (got injured), we could have done with his two overs at the end.”
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