Eoin Morgan labelled Ben Stokes as “almost superhuman” after the all-rounder inspired England to World Cup glory in one of the most dramatic denouements to a final in the history of any sport.
Stokes held his nerve under the utmost pressure, his 84 not out ensuring England matched New Zealand’s 241 at a frenzied Lord’s and, despite being clearly fatigued, he returned to bat alongside Jos Buttler for the super over.
The pair put on 15 and, though Jimmy Neesham and Martin Guptill equalled the total, England scooped the grand prize by virtue of registering more boundaries in an epic, see-saw showdown that truly captured the imagination.
“To come through is extraordinary,” the England captain said. “It’s almost superhuman. He’s really carried the team and our batting line-up.
“To bat with the lower order the way he did, I thought was incredible. He managed to deal with the emotion and atmosphere in an incredibly experienced manner.
“Hopefully everyone watching at home will try to be the next Ben Stokes.”
Stokes’ last final in an England shirt ended in heartbreak, conceding four successive sixes as the freewheeling Carlos Brathwaite secured the World Twenty20 crown for the West Indies in 2016.
Morgan added: “A lot of careers would have been ended after what happened in Kolkata. But Ben has stood up individually and in the unit for us a huge number of times since then.
“And here he’s had a huge day out and we’re thankful for that.”
Stokes recognised the magnitude of the finale, watched on by 30,000 at the home of cricket, a mass gathering at Trafalgar Square and a bumper audience up and down the country, swelled by being broadcast on terrestrial television.
He said at the presentation ceremony: “I’m pretty lost for words. All the hard work that’s gone in over these four years, this is where we aspired to be.
“To do it with such a game, I don’t think there will be another like this in the history of cricket.
“The lads, in this one-day team, the Test team, my family, their support has been massive. Now I’m just looking forward to tonight.”
Morgan came to the press conference with the World Cup trophy after leading them to their first global 50-over title, ending 44 years of disappointment in this tournament.
Morgan said: “This means absolutely everything. It’s been an absolutely incredible journey. I still can’t quite believe it, that’s why I’m carrying it around as much as I can.”
The captain recognised there were moments that went in England’s favour, most notably in the final over when a diving Stokes unintentionally made contact with the ball as he stretched to make his ground, leading to four overthrows.
Asked if he had brought the luck of the Irish with him, the Dubliner said: “It was the most incredible game of cricket, with nothing between the sides. It was the finest of margins, and it could have gone either way.
“I spoke to Adil (Rashid) and he said that Allah was with us. So Allah was with us as well.
“I commend the Black Caps and Kane (Williamson, New Zealand captain), they’ve been absolutely incredible. Admirable spirit, the fight they’ve shown.”
Morgan joins Sir Bobby Moore and Martin Johnson in leading England to glory on the world stage but when asked whether he expects his life to be altered by this triumph, he said: “I lead quite a quiet one.
“I’d love it to change for everyone who wants it to change. But I enjoy my life!”
As for whether he will continue as captain, the 32-year-old responded: “We’ll let the dust settle. We’ll celebrate as hard as we can and then reflect.”