India vs. England: Brits Repeat History in Loss at Champions Trophy Final

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 23:  Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan, and Chris Woakes look on after England lost to India during the ICC Champions Trophy Final match between England and India at Edgbaston on June 23, 2013 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

India 129-7 (20 overs) beat England (124-8) by five runs at Edgbaston on Sunday, capturing the ICC Champions Trophy in a rain-filled comeback victory.

BBC details how it all went down:

Chasing a modest 130 in a game reduced to 20 overs per side by rain, England were set for a historic triumph with 20 needed off 16 balls and Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara at the crease.

However, Morgan's departure for 33 was the first of four wickets to fall for three runs in eight balls as the team were struck by nerves.

England finished on 124-8 after James Tredwell missed the last ball of the innings with six required for victory.

There are plenty of stories to be told here. Per The Times of India, India's captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the first captain to win three world titles—a unique and impressive distinction that the veteran has well-earned during his tenure. We could also tell the technical story, focus on how, exactly, England managed to squander such a lead, without examining its broad ramifications.

But more intriguing than any narrative that developed on Sunday was England's continued pattern of losing in major finals. Especially after recently getting over the hump, this defeat—and the nature by which it took place—was particularly painful to watch. The demons they exorcised came back in an ugly way, and the team simply reverted to form.

After an inauspicious history in world finals, England's cricket team finally got the monkey off its back in 2010. That year, in the ICC World Twenty20, England defeated Australia by seven wickets for their first ever world title. Though second in the ICC's most recent Test rankings, England had never, until that moment, been able to achieve global glory.

It isn't that they never had a chance, but rather that they knew not what to with it. In fact, so poor was England's record in world finals up until 2010, that some even accused it of being cursed.

England made the final in three out of four World Cups between 1979 and 1992, but was never able to come up victorious. It lost to West Indies by 92 runs in 1979, Australia by seven runs in 1983 and Pakistan in 1992 by 22 runs.

Those letdowns were amplified 12 years later, in this very tournament, when England lost the 2004 Champions Trophy Final by two wickets to West Indies. All of which is to say, through accumulated contextual evidence, that the breakthrough in 2010 cannot be understated in importance. It was supposed to bring about a new day in English cricket.

For most of Sunday's match against India, it appeared that's exactly what had happened. The English looked the part of champions in storming to a lead, seemed poised to capture their first ever Champions Trophy. The narrative of five-straight losses in finals—a record of Bills-ian proportions—was about to be flipped. It was about to become two consecutive wins.

But then history repeated itself. And once it started, it was clear what was happening, like the feeling Chicago Cubs fans got the moment Steve Bartman interfered with that foul ball. This wasn't the same team that overcame Australia four year earlier; this was the same team that was scared of success between 1979 and 2010.

The Brits' putrid batting display down the stretch cost them a chance to make history. It cost them a chance to flip the script on their past and write a new future for English cricket.

But they tightened and choked in the match's waning moments, unable to capitalize on a fortuitous position, then watched another country celebrate its achievement right in front of their faces.

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