The ICC cricket World Cup Final between England and New Zealand at Lord’s involves two nations who have already lost six times between them in the tournament, but they have come good when it mattered, and it is churlish and wrong to think that the two best sides have not reached the final.
After a poor run mid-tournament England have already won three “win or go home” games against India, New Zealand and Australia and their performance against the Baggy Greens in the semi-final in Birmingham on Thursday was close to perfection.
New Zealand, meanwhile, limped into the last four but they upset the odds against India at Old Trafford when their bowling and fielding suffocated the Indians who lost their big runs Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for next to nothing. Man-for-man the Black Caps do not compare with England but that will count for nothing when battle commences at 10.30 on Sunday.
England are 1/3 at BetVictor to lift the Trophy with New Zealand 12/5. Eoin Morgan’s side thrashed the Black Caps in the round-robin game between the sides at Chester-le-Street earlier in the month when the “Bash Brothers” Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow put on 120 for the first wicket in a total of 308.
New Zealand’s quickest bowler Lockie Ferguson missed the game through injury, however, and his replacement Tim Southee bowled 9 expensive overs for 70. Ferguson is quick and aggressive but there looked a massive gulf between the teams in Durham and I can‘t see Kane Williamson’s side reversing the form.
India’s middle and lower order were unable to overcome the loss of Rohit and Kohli at Old Trafford in a low-scoring game midweek despite a magnificent innings from Ravi Jadeja. The Black Caps are likely to find England’s batting line up a different proposition to India’s even if they do make early inroads.
Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson has had a magnificent tournament with the bat and his is the wicket England will prize the most. Much was written about Jofra Archer’s inclusion pre-tournament, but his bowling has done his talking for him and I am convinced he will have a big say in the destination of the Ashes which starts back at Edgbaston on the 1st August.
I keep thinking opener Martin Guptill is due a score, but I’m not convinced he would handpick Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett and Archer as an attack to play him back into form.
Guptill is 4/1 with BetVictor to be top Black Cats runscorer but Williamson has the best technique and he gets the vote at 2/1. Jason Roy didn’t cover himself in glory when refusing to leave the wicket when incorrectly given out in the semi-final, but I hope the Surrey opener – another who has a role to play in the forthcoming Ashes series – continues his rich vein of form at Lord’s.
Football didn’t come home 12 months ago in Russia or indeed in France at the beginning of the month, but a new name will be on the ICC World Cup Trophy tomorrow night and that name will be England.