“If there was a replay the day after I would do exactly the same. I won’t be shying away from it.” Battered, bruised but unbowed, Ben Stokes would have no hesitation in taking on the challenge of delivering death-bowling victories for England in the future.
That is a measure of the all-rounder’s character, given the pain that courses through his veins after the final-over demolition handed out by Carlos Braithwaite in the World T20 final last Sunday .
In front of 55,000 fans at Eden Gardens and a global television audience, the hulking West Indies No.8 despatched Stokes for four successive sixes over deep backward square, long-on, long-off and midwicket to chase down 19 and win the tournament in electrifying fashion.
But speaking less than a week after one of the most brutal finishes in history, the 24 year-old outlined the faith he retains in his ability and how his emotional response has developed.
“All we did for five weeks was train and every training session we were bowling yorkers for that end of innings skill,” he says. “I know I can do it, it’s just the execution that let me down on that night.
“At the time the emotions were of devastation but a few days after it I’ve opened my eyes to the fact that I represented England in a World Cup final.
“Obviously it still hurts not getting over the line and it still hurts being the guy who bowled that last over but in terms of what we managed to achieve out there as a team, it’s something that we can be very, very proud of.”
A shattering moment early on in an England career that is seemingly destined for greatness, but the overriding sentiment afterwards was: that’s T20, that’s cricket, that’s international sport.
The old sporting adage that you learn more in defeat than victory has become pertinent for Stokes when he recalls the reaction of fans and fellow professionals to what happened in Kolkata.
The Durham man recovered with a “few beers” with his teammates and family before gathering the mental fortitude to test the public response to his final over in the simplest, most accessible form. He had a look on Twitter.
“I was overwhelmed by the support that I was getting from everyone,” he says. “And not just me, the whole team in general.
“So I put a couple of tweets out saying how overwhelming it was to receive all that support from people who are supporters of England. I think it took us to lose the final to understand how proud people in England were of what we managed to achieve.
Overwhelmed by all the support of everyone after a disappointing last over…..So proud to of represented my country in a World Cup final…
— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) April 3, 2016
“If we’d won people would have been like ‘you were always going to win’. But now we appreciate the support we have from back home.
“For us to participate in a World Cup final after being written off, I think everyone who supports us is appreciative of that.”