EOIN MORGAN labelled Ben Stokes as “almost superhuman” after the all-rounder inspired England to World Cup glory in one of the most dramatic denouements to a final in the history of any sport.
Stokes held his nerve under the utmost pressure, his 84 not out ensuring England matched New Zealand’s 241 at a frenzied Lord’s and, despite being clearly fatigued, he returned to bat alongside Jos Buttler for the super over.
The pair put on 15 and, though Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill equalled the total, England scooped the grand prize by virtue of registering more boundaries in an epic, see-saw showdown that truly captured the imagination.
“To come through is extraordinary,” the England captain said. “It’s almost superhuman. He’s really carried the team and our batting line-up.
“To bat with the lower order the way he did, I thought was incredible. He managed to deal with the emotion and atmosphere in an incredibly experienced manner.
“Hopefully everyone watching at home will try to be the next Ben Stokes.”
Stokes’s last final in an England shirt ended in heartbreak, conceding four successive sixes as the freewheeling Carlos Brathwaite secured the World T20 crown for the West Indies in 2016.
Morgan added: “A lot of careers would have been ended after what happened in Kolkata. But Ben has stood up individually and in the unit for us a huge number of times since then.
“And here he’s had a huge day out and we’re very thankful for that.”
Morgan came to the press conference with the World Cup trophy after leading them to their first global 50-over title, ending 44 years of disappointment in this tournament.
This means absolutely everything. It’s been an absolutely incredible journey. I still can’t quite believe it, that’s why I’m carrying it around as much as I can.Eoin Morgan
Morgan said: “This means absolutely everything. It’s been an absolutely incredible journey. I still can’t quite believe it, that’s why I’m carrying it around as much as I can.”
The captain recognised there were moments that went in England’s favour, most notably in the final over when a diving Stokes unintentionally made contact with the ball as he stretched to make his ground, leading to four overthrows.
Asked if he had brought the luck of the Irish with him, the Dubliner said: “It was the most incredible game of cricket, with nothing between the sides. It was the finest of margins, and it could have gone either way.
“I spoke to Adil (Rashid) and he said that Allah was with us. So Allah was with us as well.
“I commend the Black Caps and Kane (Williamson, New Zealand captain), they’ve been absolutely incredible. Admirable spirit, the fight they’ve shown.”
Morgan joins Sir Bobby Moore and Martin Johnson in leading England to glory on the world stage but when asked whether he expects his life to be altered by this triumph, he said: “I lead quite a quiet one.
“I’d love it to change for everyone who wants it to change. But I enjoy my life!”
As for whether he will continue as captain, the 32-year-old responded: “We’ll let the dust settle. We’ll celebrate as hard as we can and then reflect.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson admitted his team’s defeat was “hard to swallow”.
It was the Kiwis’ second straight World Cup final defeat having lost to Australia four years ago, leaving Williamson lamenting a hefty amount of “uncontrollables” in defeat.
Asked if he felt the super over rules are fair, Williamson said: “I never thought I’d have to answer that question. While the emotions are raw it’s pretty hard to swallow.
“Two teams have worked really hard to get to this moment in time.
“So when two attempts to separate them with a winner and a loser still didn’t perhaps shine, it just is what it is.
“The rules are there at the start. No one probably thought we’d have to resort to that. But it was a great game of cricket.
“Everyone is still here, they want more.
“But we’re looking forward to putting our feet up now and reflecting on the tournament.”
One of the key moments saw Trent Boult catch Stokes out at long on, only to then step on to the boundary rope, handing a six to England when they most needed it.
“I suppose we’ve just finished the game, but whether people talk about it in years to come we’ll have to find out,” added Williamson.
“It is quite hard to look at it in a rational way when we’ve just been through that. But judging by the support clearly this was a great spectacle.
“Whether to laugh or cry, it’s your choice, isn’t it. It’s not anger for us, a lot of disappointment I suppose.
“The guys are really feeling it right now.”