England Face Day Of Destiny In World Cup Final Against New Zealand
Muhammad Rameez 10 days ago Sat 13th July 2019 | 09:00 AM
As England captain Eoin Morgan put it: "If you had offered us the position to play in a final the day after we were knocked out of the 2015 World Cup, I would have laughed at you." One person not laughing was Andrew Strauss, the former England director of cricket.
Many of the elements that made England the pre-tournament favourites were on show in Birmingham.
Pacemen Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes reduced Australia to 14-3, leg-spinner Adil Rashid took wickets in the middle and the dynamic duo of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow -- statistically the most successful opening pair in ODI history -- launched the run chase with a blistering century partnership.
By reaching the final, England have guaranteed an international match will be shown live on free-to-air television in Britain for the first time since the iconic 2005 Ashes series -- a chance to inspire a new generation.
"I think Sunday's not a day to shy away from, it's a day to look forward to," said Morgan, an outrider in English cricket in becoming an ODI specialist when the steely Dubliner realised his Test career had stalled.
They shot out England for just 123 and then overhauled that total in a mere 12.2 overs.
"It was as close to rock-bottom as I've been", said Morgan. "Certainly as a captain and as a player, being beaten off the park like that was humiliating." England gained a measure of revenge with a 119-run thrashing of New Zealand in a group-stage match earlier in this World Cup.
But that is unlikely to count for much on Sunday.
All tournament long, the same comment has been made about New Zealand -- they boast a well-balanced attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult but are over-reliant on captain Kane Williamson and fellow senior batsman Ross Taylor for their runs.
Boult and Matt Henry reduced one of the world's most powerful top orders to 5-3, before left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, aided by superb fielding, backed them up after Williamson and Taylor had made battling fifties on a tricky pitch.
While many members of the home side were not even born when England made the last of three losing appearances in a World Cup final in 1992, the Black Caps have the experience of their heavy defeat by co-hosts Australia in the climax of the 2015 edition in Melbourne to call on.
"I'd be lying if I said we weren't a bit overawed by the change of scenery," said Taylor as he looked back to New Zealand's first and only match on Australian soil in that tournament.
"I think we know what to expect, the pressures that come with it, we've been there before. You just have to enjoy it, it's the 'Home of Cricket', I can't think of a better place to play a final."