England win Cricket World Cup: 'Perfect day gives amazing platform'

By Jonathan AgnewBBC cricket correspondent

There will never be another finish to a World Cup final like that.

For England to win it, in front of a full house at Lord's in that incredible atmosphere, on free-to-air TV, with a massive audience on the radio and online, could not have been any better.

If that doesn't show people what an amazing sport cricket is and entice them to get into the game, I'm not sure what will.

It was the most ridiculous game of cricket, tied twice. You can debate the fairness of winning on the amount of boundaries scored, and you have to have some sympathy for New Zealand. How would we feel about that system if England had lost?

But, if the objective of this summer was to sell the game, maybe if England had lost we would still feel the final was something that would put cricket right up there as a sport everyone should get involved in.

Everything that was wanted to be achieved was achieved, and so much more on top. Now cricket has an amazing platform from which to build.

I don't think the England and Wales Cricket Board, and those of us who love cricket, can have asked for anything more.

There were times when I thought England had lost. In fact, until that flukey throw glanced off Ben Stokes' bat and went for four overthrows, they were second-favourites.

That was a massive slice of fortune, one that makes you think someone was looking down on England.

The curious thing is, had it not gone for four, it wouldn't have given them an advantage, because Stokes wasn't going to run. But, once it hit the rope, that was that.

It was such a strange thing to happen at such a crucial moment and ultimately saved them.

That is not to underestimate the role Stokes played in England's salvation.

This is a man who conceded four successive sixes in the final over of the 2016 World T20 final defeat and a year ago was standing trial for affray.

Underneath all of that, he has always been a fantastic cricketer, one helped through it all by the support of a wonderful family.

Ben Stokes hugs his wife Clare after the World Cup final
Ben Stokes hugs his wife Clare after the World Cup final

In the company of Jos Buttler, he turned things around - the pair of them using all of their one-day experience and nous.

Some may talk about redemption, but to me, that's not the point. Stokes was merely doing his job, albeit doing it very, very well.

While it was Stokes at Lord's, the planning that went in to that day was led by Andrew Strauss, Trevor Bayliss and Eoin Morgan.

Morgan, the captain, is an extraordinary man. He has changed so much from the player that first came into the England team, one who was quite difficult to talk to, especially when it came to his Irish background.

He has matured beyond all recognition into an engaging, calm and thoughtful leader. I have so much admiration for him.

Four years ago, the captaincy was thrust upon him on the eve of a World Cup that turned out to be a truly dismal tournament for England.

To turn things around, he put himself on the line with a new way of playing and by backing the players he wanted.

Not only that, he recognised just how big this World Cup was for the game as a whole. He showed incredible humility and I am so, so pleased that he has become the first England captain to get his hands on the trophy.

Along with Bayliss, they have created an environment for the players to thrive.

Bayliss was hired to win the World Cup and that is what he has done. Outwardly he is unflappable, setting the tone in a dressing room where players are encouraged to take risks.

There was one shot that Buttler played on Sunday, a scoop over his shoulder, that left me wondering how he had the courage to do it.

If he had missed it, and had his middle stump blown out, there are some circumstances where he would have been castigated.

Not in this England team, and that is a mentality that comes from Bayliss allowing the players to express themselves without fear of failure.

Bayliss' appointment, being aligned with the former assistant coach Paul Farbrace, was part of the vision of Strauss, the ex-director of cricket who presided over England's new attitude to one-day cricket.

It was Strauss and ECB chairman Colin Graves who earmarked this World Cup, putting new emphasis on the 50-over game and bringing the white-ball players in line with those who play in Tests.

Anyone who was in Adelaide four years ago to see England dumped out by Bangladesh will know what a remarkable transformation they have been through. The majority of that came on Strauss' watch and I am delighted he was at Lord's to see the end result.

Strauss was working for Sky, who can take great credit for making the game available on free-to-air television.

Sky do their thing, and that is great, but now they have probably secured subscribers of the future.

Not only that, but cricket will have new players and supporters, because the game could not have advertised itself any better.

Was it better than 2005, the unforgettable Ashes? That series will always be right up there, but to be there while Morgan did a lap of honour, watched by 29,000 people swept away by the occasion, was about as special as it gets.

It really was a perfect day.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Stephan Shemilt

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