Favourites England will take on odds-defying New Zealand as both teams search for their maiden World Cup glory in the title clash of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at the Lord’s in London today.
It took England a significant change in approach and a staggering 27 years to find themselves competing in a World Cup final. Their resurgence post the disappointing exit from the 2015 edition, started with a 3-2 triumph in a high-scoring bilateral one-day international series against the then runners-up New Zealand. On Sunday, they face the same opponents, as they aim to win their first World Cup final after three previously failed attempts in 1979, 1987 and 1992.Jason Roy’s return to the playing XI has had an instant impact on the Eoin Morgan-led side as they staged a remarkable comeback after back-to-back defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia in the league stage. Their top three have been a match-winning trio, having amassed 1,471 runs between them. The bowling too, led by Chris Woakes’ discipline and Jofra Archer’s intensity has mounted pressure on their opponents on a consistent basis.
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.
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.” “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.
It is perhaps appropriate that England are facing New Zealand in a final between two sides who have yet to win the World Cup.
For it was the Black Caps who showed England how to play the modern one-day game at the 2015 edition in Wellington four years ago.
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.”
New Zealand, with their remarkable win against the league stage table-toppers and favourites India, have given enough evidence of the game’s unpredictable nature, as much as their own. The experienced duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor has been shouldering the responsibility with the bat after frequent failures from the top order. Their bowling attack, powered by the intensity of Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry and nurtured by the calming and disciplined influence of Trent Boult has been producing match-defining results in the tournament.
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.”
Playing their second successive World Cup final, New Zealand will desperately need a strong foundation from their openers to set the game in their favour. Considering the recent form, league stage result and home conditions, England seem to have their noses slightly ahead. However, New Zealand’s ability to excel as a team on big occasions, promise a tough challenge for the hosts.
England: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Tom Blundell (wk), Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Henry Nicholls, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry and Jimmy Neesham.