Ben Stokes not to blame for our World Twenty20 pain: England captain Eoin Morgan
Captain Eoin Morgan promised that the entire England squad would rally round Ben Stokes after he was torn apart in the final over of the World Twenty20 decider.
Stokes needed to defend 19 with the last six balls of the tournament but looked on in horrified disbelief as West Indian hitter Carlos Brathwaite deposited four consecutive deliveries over the ropes for six.
It was devastating, merciless striking from the muscular all-rounder, whose exploits left Stokes hunched and humbled in front of 66,000 fans at Eden Gardens.
The Durham all-rounder has excelled across all formats in the past year - including death bowling here in India - and Morgan vowed he would not have to bear his burden alone following the dramatic four-wicket defeat.
"Cricket can be a cruel game. This is not Ben's fault, we're all in this together," said Morgan. "But it's quite simple from my point of view: he is going to be devastated.
"It'll take its toll in the next couple of days but we share everything we do, we stick together as a side. We share pain, we share the success. I hope in the future we have a lot more success and, personally, I think we will have but now we share the pain."
Marlon Samuels, whose 85 not out in 66 balls laid the foundation for Brathwaite's brutal cameo, conducted his entire post-match press conference with his feet crossed on the top table and took the opportunity to throw a few digs in Stokes' direction.
The pair memorably clashed in the Caribbean during last year's Test series - Samuels saluting the all-rounder after he was dismissed in Grenada and earning a few industrial words by way of riposte.
"Stokes is a nervous lion," said Samuels, who was fined 30 per cent of his match fee for abusing Stokes at the finale. "He doesn't learn. We keep telling him when we play against him do not speak to me because I'm going to perform.
"What I told Brathwaite is just hold his pose and he is going to bowl a couple of full tosses, as always."
Stokes at least managed to pitch all four deliveries, but had no answer for Brathwaite's bullying batsmanship.
Morgan ended on an optimistic note. His side came into the match with 171 fewer T20 caps than the West Indies, and had an average of 26.7 compared to their opponents' 31.
"I felt a range of different emotions, but this is the beginning of something I hope is going to be special," he added.
"This side is at the very beginning of its progression. It's actually frightening to think what we can do if we achieve our potential.
"We have a great amount of talent to work with. Let's hope we can keep this group of players together for a long time and look to the future."