JUBILANT captain Paul Collingwood praised his England heroes after they produced a fittingly dominant performance to clinch a historic triumph at the World Twenty20 in Barbados.
Imperious England beat old rivals Australia by seven wickets and with three overs remaining to end a 35-year wait for success in an International Cricket Council tournament.
Fine fielding limited their opponents to 147-6, despite the best efforts of David Hussey, before a second-wicket stand of 111 between Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen thrust England towards their victory target.
It fell to Collingwood to notch the match-winning runs, and afterwards the skipper revelled in going further than predecessors Michael Vaughan, Graham Gooch, Mike Gatting and Mike Brearley ever did.
“This is right up there with the best. To be the first [England] team to win a World Cup is very special,” said Collingwood.
“The guys deserve everything they’ve got today. We have won a World Cup, and you can never take that away from us. We thoroughly deserve the victory, because of the way we’ve played throughout the tournament. I’m absolutely delighted with the guys.”
England won the toss, elected to field and soon had Australia reeling on 8-3, quickly dismissing Shane Watson, David Warner and then Brad Haddin. Hussey, aided by Cameron White, stabilised the innings and his 59 was crucial in steering them towards a respectable total.
Superiority looked to be up in the air when England lost opener Michael Lumb in the second over, but that heralded the arrival at the crease of Pietersen (47), and he and Kieswetter (63) set about amassing a decisive score.
Nerves crept in when they departed in successive overs, but a steady partnership between Collingwood and Eoin Morgan, the star of England’s earlier games, secured the trophy at a canter.
Pietersen, who recently became a father, said: “I hope the ash cloud will stay away and we can get back to our families on Tuesday. It’s one thing celebrating with the lads but you also want your families around you.”
Beaten Australia captain Michael Clarke said: “We got beaten by the better team today. England played some wonderful cricket, and outplayed us today.”