England will attempt to cap their one-day international resurgence over the last four years by lifting the World Cup for the first time at Lord’s on Sunday.
Standing in their way are New Zealand, who will also be looking to go all the way in this tournament for the first time, having fallen short at the final hurdle four years ago.
Here, PA looks at some of the pressing issues ahead of the showdown at the home of cricket.
England’s travails in the World Cup have been well-publicised but they are worth repeating. Runners-up on three occasions, the last time in 1992, which was coincidentally when they last won a knockout game until thumping Australia by eight wickets on Thursday in their last four encounter. It has often seemed that this tournament is England’s bete-noire but this weekend may be their best chance to finally break their duck. New Zealand may be underdogs but they, too, will be looking at this fixture as a golden opportunity to go all the way, having been thrashed by Australia at the MCG in their first final appearance four years ago.
Since the end of the 2005 Ashes, England internationals have almost exclusively been the preserve of subscription channels. But, at least for one day, cricket will be back on terrestrial screens after Sky Sports struck a deal allowing Channel 4 to screen it. There has been much debate about the absence of the sport from free-to-air television for more than a decade and the hope is that the prospect of a greater audience – as many as six million extra viewers are being predicted to tune in – could lead to the scenes that followed that seminal Ashes series 14 years ago.
The 22-yard strip at Lord’s had a green tinge 24 hours before the winner-takes-all encounter. Eoin Morgan, who knows more than most about this ground given he has represented Middlesex all of his professional career, said: “From afar, it looks greener than it is. There isn’t a lot of grass on the wicket. So it probably exaggerates how it will look. If the sun comes out for a few hours, it will look different in a few hours, it’ll go whiter and burn it off.” The pitch is significant because it is the first major one prepared by Karl McDermott, who was appointed head groundsman by the MCC last September when Mick Hunt stepped down from the position after 49 years in charge.
Jason Roy would have been forgiven for letting out a sigh and maybe even feeling a little sheepish on discovering Kumar Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus will be the on-field officials for this clash. Roy was well on his way to a three-figure score against Australia earlier this week only to be given out erroneously by Dharmasena, nowhere near a lifter from Pat Cummins. Roy immediately attempted to send the decision upstairs and Dharmasena signalled, only for Australia to correctly point out England had already burned their review. Roy remonstrated long and loud and continued to do so after Erasmus had attempted to diffuse the situation. The England opener accepted two demerit points and a fine for his indiscretion.
In many ways Liam Plunkett flies under the radar. Not in physical stature – the former Durham and Yorkshire seamer, now at Surrey, stands out in any crowd. But while Jofra Archer has, deservedly, been hyped for his displays in the embryonic stages of his England career, the Barbadian-born seamer is not unbeaten at this tournament. Plunkett is. Figures of eight wickets at an average of 28.75 in six matches are hardly talismanic but is telling that England’s three recent defeats came when he was omitted from the XI. Morgan insists the pitches Plunkett has played on have suited his cross-seamers and subtle changes of pace but he is a reassuring presence in the line-up.