England are within one win of lifting the World Cup for the first time after dismissing Australia to move into the final and a showdown against New Zealand at Lord’s this weekend.
After kicking into gear late on in the group stage to reach the semi-finals, England brushed aside the threat of their oldest rivals, triumphing by eight wickets, to book a place in Sunday’s showpiece.
Here, PA looks at what to look out for ahead of the latest meeting between Eoin Morgan’s side and the Black Caps.
Whoever comes out on top, a new name will be added to the World Cup trophy. Both sides have reached the final hurdle – England three times and New Zealand last time out in 2015 – but neither has gone all the way. In the first five editions England reached three finals and two semis, but their record between 1992 and 2015 was abysmal, failing to win a single knockout game. The Black Caps, meanwhile, shook off their tag as perennial semi-finalists four years ago, but another final defeat would see them lumbered with the bridesmaids tag. Unlike England, they do at least have some global one-day international silverware in the bag after triumphing at the 2000 KnockOut Trophy, the precursor to the Champions Trophy.
This tournament has been beset – but not ruined – by the inclement weather, with four washouts in the group stage a record in the tournament’s 44-year history. Thankfully, there were reserve days for the semi-finals, one of which was needed after persistent rain at Old Trafford on Tuesday afternoon forced the conclusion of New Zealand’s innings to be deferred until Wednesday, when the Kiwis defeated India by 18 runs. England, meanwhile, completed their mauling of Australia just before the heavens opened on Thursday. The forecast for St John’s Wood is cloudy but with minimal chance of rain, meaning there should be few, if any, interruptions.
The chatter before the World Cup was of the first 500-plus score in ODIs, with scorecards being printed for such an occasion. Hindsight makes fools of us all. There has not even been one total above 400 and the home of cricket would seem an ill-suited place for that to change. Lord’s has had only 10 scores of 300 or more in 50-over internationals, with a highest of 334 for four in the first ever World Cup match in 1975, England amassing the total against India when the innings spanned 60 overs. However, England’s batting looks to be firing on all cylinders again after a mid-tournament wobble so do not completely rule out history being made.
In the four group matches held at Lord’s, the team that batted first went on to win on every occasion. If there is cloud cover and England win the toss then Morgan’s decision will be interesting given those same factors came into play against Australia at HQ last month, only for his fast bowlers to let him down. New Zealand, meanwhile, were asked to field first at Lord’s against their Antipodean rivals and also lost heavily, scoreboard pressure – as has been a wider trend in this tournament as a whole – proving decisive. Batting first could therefore be crucial.
Lord’s is well-known for attracting celebrities – and England’s clash against Australia saw former Prime Ministers John Major and David Cameron lead the way among the political classes. Ed Sheeran and Muse frontman Matt Bellamy represented the rockers, with current England football boss Gareth Southgate and former Three Lions chief Glenn Hoddle also in attendance. The men’s final at Wimbledon on Sunday afternoon means the great and good have their choice of what event to go to – but the home of cricket should still see a smattering of celebrities present.
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