Moeen Ali admitted his desperation for England to claim the T20 World Cup title meant the final against Pakistan was the “most nervous” he has ever been in his career.
The all-rounder was already a 50-over World Cup winner but, whereas he was out of the England XI come the crunch time of the 2019 campaign, three years on in Australia he has been an ever-present.
An innings of 19 off 12 balls in the showpiece was much more important than it first appears as his three fours in the 17th over bowled by Mohammad Wasim swung the momentum towards England at the MCG.
While Wasim had his revenge in his next over by castling Moeen, the damage was done and Ben Stokes, who made 52 not out off 49 balls, got England over the line with five wickets and six deliveries to spare.
Aged 35, Moeen recognises he may not have too many opportunities left to win World Cups and was happy to banish the memory of the 2016 final in which the West Indies pipped England in the last over.
“Being at the back end of my career, I felt like this was the most nervous I’ve ever been for a game,” Moeen said.
“It felt like the biggest game I’ve ever played in because obviously I was so desperate to win it. I feel like as a team we deserved it. I’m absolutely buzzing.
“To win the World Cup after 2016, missing out in the final, then the semi-final (last year) where we probably felt we should have won, and then coming out here, it was an amazing performance.”
As deputy to captain Jos Buttler, Moeen is a central figure in England’s leadership group and has felt an increased sense of responsibility to encourage those around him, particularly the younger players.
But he believes his most telling intervention came in a chat with Adil Rashid, who had a tournament of two halves, leaking 89 runs from 12 overs in his first three matches before hitting his stride.
Against Sri Lanka in the final must-win group game, India in the semi-final and Pakistan in the marquee match, Rashid claimed outstanding figures of 12-1-58-4 to give England a foothold in all three matches.
“I’ve been a lot more involved, I guess, with Jos and being vice-captain,” Moeen said. “Rash, for example, he wasn’t struggling, but I feel like there was a lot missing and all of a sudden it worked.
“We spoke and I said how good he was. I’ve still been saying he’s the best leg-spinner in the world. When he’s bowling like that there’s no one that compares to him.”
Several of England’s squad, including Buttler and Moeen, have little time to revel in their triumph as they start a three-match ODI series against Australia at Adelaide on Thursday.
It is reminiscent of when a number of England’s 2019 contingent were back in action in a Test against Ireland 10 days after the World Cup final win over New Zealand.
“Those kind of things are a shame and, you know, as a group we want to enjoy and celebrate and have that (time) because you put so much into it as well,” Moeen added.
“Having a game in three days’ time, it’s horrible. As players we’re kind of getting used to it now. But to give 100 per cent all the time is difficult when you’re playing every two, three days.”
England head coach Matthew Mott added: “It’s not ideal, I can’t lie. I think we always saw that series as being something that we will have to be really professional about. The schedule is the schedule and we’ve got to move with it.”