England vs New Zealand, World Cup final: Two hopeful champions, one moment of reckoning
England vs New Zealand World Cup final: Though England go into the final with a home advantage, both teams have such self-belief that there’s a sense little will faze themUpdated: Jul 14, 2019 10:34 IST
Cricket’s moment of reckoning arrives in a few hours when England take on New Zealand in the World Cup final at Lord’s on a super Sunday for sports. The irony is not lost on most pragmatic fans as cricket jostles for their attention on a day Roger Federer tries to elevate an already staggering Wimbledon record and Lewis Hamilton aims to go past Alain Prost and Jim Clarke with a sixth British Grand Prix win. Making Sunday’s final free-to-air is a last-ditch attempt to keep the country hooked on cricket but the English will not be swayed merely by that. They want a World Cup to go along with it.
Captain Eoin Morgan is aware of what the fans want, but the Irishman isn’t getting ahead of himself and picturing the trophy in his hands. “Sport, and cricket in particular, is very fickle. If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside,” Morgan said on Saturday.
Losses to Australia and Sri Lanka had pushed them to the brink but by defeating India, New Zealand and Australia, England have proven they are not No 1 for nothing. One more win and England will have done a massive service to a nation in need of a new sporting success since the rugby World Cup win in 2003.
“Renaissance” is the word the English press is using to describe the team’s rise from the humiliating low of not even qualifying for the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals. “It means a huge amount to me and everybody in the changing room. It’s a culmination of four years of hard work, dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup,” said Morgan, going on to describe the anticipation that has spilled onto the streets of London. “I think just a general level of excitement, messages you get, people you meet on the street. Yeah it’s pretty cool.”
Having not reached this juncture since 1992, England’s euphoria is understandable. New Zealand, more guarded after losing the 2015 final, too are wholeheartedly embracing the tag of underdogs. “They (England) were favourites and they’ve been playing really good cricket. But whatever dog we are, it’s just important that we focus on the cricket that we want to play. And we have seen over the years that anybody can beat anybody regardless of breed of dog,” said New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
Before losing the group league match in Durham, New Zealand had not been defeated by England in a World Cup since 1983. Another loss to England would be a sucker blow ,but Williamson believes it’s more important to play their best cricket, and also provide inspiration to the next generation. “That is kind of why you do it and hopefully there’s a lot of kids out there who have been enjoying the cricket we have been playing and appreciate the hard work that’s gone into being here now,” said Williamson.
Morgan is seeking a similar impact. “I think it will be quite iconic in certainly young kids’ memory if they are watching it at home and if we manage to lift the trophy, it would be awesome,” he said.