This time in Alternative Universe, the series in which our writers let their imagination change the game, one of our young England staffers has a dark tale for you
England's and India's players pull back the curtains on the morning of the 2013 Champions Trophy final to see thick clouds loom ominously over Birmingham. The rain holds off and Alastair Cook wins a crucial toss, opting to bowl first with his three Test-match seamers licking their lips at the prospect of finding some early swing. But as the anthems ring out over the PA system, the drizzle begins. Six hours later, the umpires decide a T20 can be squeezed in - needing 20 off 16 balls with six wickets in hand, England somehow screw up a chase of 130 and their 50-over trophy drought goes on.
What if the rain had held off after England had won the toss? Under leaden skies and with a new ball hooping round corners at both ends, James Anderson and Stuart Broad get to work early: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli fall cheaply, and from that point, it's little more than a procession as Tim Bresnan and James Tredwell mop up the rest. Chasing a paltry target, Cook ticks over at 4.5 runs per over alongside Ian Bell as per usual, and Jonathan Trott brings up a nine-wicket win with a flick off his pads. England are handed the white jackets and lift their second ICC trophy in three years.
What happened next
With a trophy in the cabinet to back them up, England stubbornly stick by their 1990s-style tactics going into the 2015 World Cup, and even a humiliating group-stage exit doesn't prompt a change in how they play white-ball cricket. Cook clings on to the captaincy, while the seamers feel the strain of playing regularly in multiple formats. Anderson calls it quits after the 2017 Champions Trophy, and Broad's last-minute injury - and the international retirement of Eoin Morgan, who chases the franchise dollar after growing enraged at England's outdated blueprint - throws their 2019 World Cup planning into disarray. They bow out before the knockouts in their own tournament. Meanwhile, New Zealand squeeze past Australia by virtue of having scored more boundaries following a tied Super Over in a Lord's final for the ages.
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