Bob Willis told Sky Sports News that India's World Cup win has put 50-over cricket back on the map.
Last Updated: 04/04/11 9:53am
India's World Cup win has put 50-over cricket back in the spotlight.
That was the view of former England skipper Bob Willis as the host nation delighted more than one billion people by seeing off Sri Lanka in Saturday's final.
The victory sent a nation into delirium at the end of a tournament that began back in February and included no fewer than 49 matches before MS Doni lifted the World Cup aloft in Mumbai.
And while England failed again, Willis believes India were worthy champions and their success has put the 50-over game back on the map.
"It was on it's kneeds and Twenty20 was taking over everything," Willis told Sky Sports News HD.
"But this tournament - perhaps a tad too long at six-and-a-half weeks - really has brought 50-over cricket back into the forefront of everybody's imagination.
"The home side winning it, with a population of 1.2 billion, was always going to bring a fantastic reaction.
"That will buoy the 50-over game, certainly into the next World Cup in four years' time when the tournament visits Australia and New Zealand - but you'd be foolish to bet against India retaining the trophy."
All eyes in Saturday's final were on Sachin Tendulkaer, who went into the game looking for his 100th century in his home city.
In the end it was Gautam Gambhir and skipper MS Dhoni who did the damage as India chased down Sri Lanka's 274-6 with 10 balls and six wickets remanining.
And Willis believes their victory put them up there with the very best in world cricket and underlined the importance of every player contributing.
"The swept all before them, they're right up the top of the charts in Test match cricket, they've already won the Twenty20 championships in South Africa and now, particularly for Sachin Tendulkar, they've put the icing on the cake," he said.
"You've got to admire these players for the pressure they were under, the expectation on them all.
"The most impressive? Yes Tendulkar did his stuff, Sehwag played his part, and Yuvraj Singh and the bowlers, but MS Doni skipper that side and kept everybody calm under intense pressure and scrutiny.
"There were a couple of slip-ups against England and South Africa in the group stages, but once it came to the knockout stages, they absolutely steamrollered the opposition.
"For me MS Doni was the star of the tournament, even if Yuvraj was named the man for 2011 if you like, he was the master.
"Every single one of their first XI made a contribution at some stage. Sehwag made 170 in the opening game with Bangladesh, Tendulkar made two centuries, Gautam Gambhir had had a lean time up until the final, then he and Doni won it with the bat for India.
"Then you go down to the younger guys, Virat (Kohli) and (Suresh) Raina in the batting order, Yuvraj we've talked about endlessly, Doni we've the captain himself, Harbhajan Singh was probably the most reliable spin bowler in the tournament, Zaheer Khan the most reliable and penetrative seam bowler in the competition.
"They had every single base covered and when they were asked to step up to the plate, they were really there.
"Tendulkar is twice as big as Wayne Rooney is in this country, he can't go anywhere without being mobbed; the biggest sports star you can think of couple with the biggest film star or the biggest rock star and that's the burden Sachin Tendulkar has to carry all day every day in India - and he carries it pretty damn well."
India's success was a far cry from England's latest big tournament failure.
Andrew Strauss's men scraped through the group stages, losing to Ireland and Bangladesh along the way, before succumbing to Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals.
And Willis says Andrew Flower and his coach staff need look no further than the new world champions for a blueprint of how to be successful in 50-over cricket.
"They have to go back to basics," he said. "Their Test match team is very successful, let's not forget that, so start with your Test match XI and tinker a little bit, one, one two possibly three places, but no more than that. Those are our best cricketers so let's play 50-over cricket with our best cricketers as well.
"Twenty20 is a different kettle of fish, but the 50-over side does have to be the nuts and bults of that Test match side.
"They get carried away with these power plays and they think a Kamikaze county player might come off. Think of how many opening partners Andrew Strauss has had; not really since the days of Marcus Trescothick and dare I say it, Nick Knight, have we had consistent starts at the top of the order.
"It's the most important position. Look at India, Tendulkar and Sehwag go in first, they're their two best players. Give your best players the most overs in the middle."