Ben Stokes’ death-over heroics had been crucial to England’s successful World Twenty20 campaign but it took just four deliveries against Carlos Brathwaite in the final on Sunday to shatter the paceman’s hard-earned reputation.
With West Indies needing 27 off the final 12 deliveries in their chase of 156, Chris Jordan gave away just nine runs in the penultimate over to set it up for Stokes to defend 19 runs and give England a second World Twenty20 title.
Stokes had been at his miserly best when, along with Jordan, he defended 22 runs in the final two overs against Sri Lanka and the duo conceded just 20 in the last four in the semi-final win against New Zealand.
Yet Stokes was left squatting on the ground and needed help from his teammates to pick himself up after he missed his length and Brathwaite smashed him for four consecutive sixes to power West Indies to an improbable win with two balls to spare.
“It is cruel,” England captain Eoin Morgan told reporters after the match.
“He’s going to be devastated.
“It will take ourselves the next couple of days to recover.”
Before Sunday’s final, Morgan had lauded Stokes and Jordan as the best bowlers in death-overs in this sixth edition of the tournament because of their skill at dishing out yorkers seemingly at will.
While Stokes’ first delivery of the final over ended as a half volley on the leg stump which Brathwaite duly hit over deep square-leg, his next three missed the yorker length, allowing the batsman to hit him over the straight boundaries.
Yet Morgan refused to blame the 24-year-old allrounder.
“We share everything we do. We stick together as a side. We share our pain, we share our success,” a sombre-looking Morgan said.
“He’s probably not hearing a lot right now. But I will tell him the exact same things.
“Hopefully in the future we will have a lot of success, I personally think we will. This side is at the very beginning of its progression.”
Stokes thanked his teammates for their support.
“Overwhelmed by all the support of everyone after a disappointing last over,” he said on Twitter.