Bigger is better but England need rebuild – what we learned from T20 World Cup

The T20 World Cup is over, with India walking away as champions after a memorable final against South Africa.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some the most striking conclusions from the tournament.

It’s the end of an era for England

Matthew Mott with a baseball glove during a nets session
Matthew Mott has presided over the loss of England’s white-ball trophies (Mike Egerton/PA)

As recently as September England were the double world champions, having won the 50-over crown in 2019 and the 20-over title in 2022. Now, they find themselves well off the pace as a limited-overs unit. Having made a fearful mess of their ODI defence in India they had a chance to prove it was just a blip and that they could still be trailblazers. But despite reaching the final four, they never looked a threat. Three heavy wins over associate nations cannot paper over three defeats from four games against their peers and their exit against the eventual champions showed just how far they had fallen. A rebuild is needed and it seems clear the leadership team of head coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler is not working.

Bigger is better for World Cup cricket

After receiving plenty of criticism for making the 50-over World Cup a closed shop of 10 teams, it was good to see the shorter format open its arms wider. The field was expanded to 20 teams and the growth paid off with some memorable moments. The United States carried the flag for the associates by storming into the Super 8 stage courtesy of a shock victory over Pakistan, while there were other underdog moments to cheer. Uganda suffered heavy defeats but also tasted victory for the first time at this level, Nepal pushed runners-up South Africa to the wire and Namibia and Oman battled to a nailbiting super over. The argument has been won.

The old guard are making way

Virat Kohli celebrates with an India flag after victory in the T20 World Cup final
Virat Kohli is one of many high-profile departures (PA)

Global tournaments are often a watershed moment for ageing players but the cohort of departing names is a significant one this time. Virat Kohli, the sport’s biggest star, announced his retirement from T20s before he had even left the field following India’s long-awaited win. He was followed by the format’s record run-scorer Rohit Sharma and later by all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. Elsewhere, Australia’s David Warner wore green and gold for the final time and one of New Zealand’s finest ever bowlers, Trent Boult, called time. Plenty more who did not announce their departures will have the decision made for them, clearing the way for new stars to emerge.

Afghanistan mean business but their women need help

Afghanistan bowler Mujeeb Rahman, centre, celebrates taking the wicket of England batsman Dawid Malan, not pictured
Afghanistan lit up the tournament but bigger issues remain unresolved (PA)

Afghanistan have been on a rapid upward trajectory for several years but, even so, their charge to the final four was a stunning achievement. They qualified ahead of New Zealand in the first round and Australia in the second, with head coach Jonathan Trott adding steeliness to an already talented playing squad. That Rahmanullah Gurbaz finished as the tournament’s top scorer and Fazalhaq Farooqi was joint leading wicket-taker shows they have strong foundations. But the ongoing issue of their women’s team being outlawed by the country’s Taliban rulers cannot be ignored any longer. The ICC must find a way to support them in exile and the successes of their male counterparts only go to prove it.

The American experiment has legs

It is not hard to see the attraction of the USA to cricket administrators but handing them co-host status at a World Cup was still a gamble. There were setbacks along the way – including the under-prepared pitch in New York and the relentless rain in Lauderhill – but it was a qualified success. The performance of the United States team was a huge boost in terms of raising awareness and there was good buy-in from the existing cricket-lovers and ex-pats. Breaking into the conversation among the wider population is a bigger ask but with Major League Cricket attracting the likes of Pat Cummins and the sport returning at the Los Angeles Olympics, it is not impossible.