England may have lost out to Pakistan in the final of the Vitality IT20 Tri-Series – but they have the considerable consolation of having gained a new star.
Liam O’Brien, a teenager from Sussex who made his debut in this tournament, underlined his all-round ability by smashing 75 off 40 balls after taking two for 32 in Pakistan’s innings.
It wasn’t enough to deny the impressive Pakistanis, who posted a formidable target of 189 for seven then reduced England to 42 for six.
But O’Brien’s defiance, which included six fours and four sixes, took England to within 45 runs, after an enjoyable series in which they sealed a final spot by beating Pakistan at Old Elizabethans on Tuesday.
“It’s only ever a loss when you don’t learn from it,” said Ian Salisbury, the former England leg-spinner who is in his second year as head coach of the PD team.
“You learn more probably from defeat than when you win. For me it just goes back to the mantra of making better cricketers and people. The great thing about sport is it does give you another better chance to come back and make things right. So, these guys will learn more from these matches.”
Abdullah Ejaz proved the match-winner, taking five for 22 and wrecking England’s top order with the wickets of Liam Thomas, captain Iain Nairn, Matt Askin, Callum Flynn and opener Alex Hammond.
“It’s a proud moment for me and my team,” he said. “The conditions were different this time playing in England but we had prepared for that. The English side is very good, each time we play against England it’s a really tough competition.”
Alam Nihar, Pakistan’s captain, said it was “a victory for disabled cricket”.
The PD series ends on Friday with England taking on a Rest of the World XI combining Pakistan and Bangladesh players at Blackfinch New Road, before the Vitality Blast match between Worcestershire Rapids and Northamptonshire Steelbacks.