'I don’t really go in for much talk of who are the favourites, all that matters most is who stays calm and in the present without looking too far ahead and worrying about what has just happened or what might happen,' wrote Steve Waugh
By Steve Waugh
London: I can still remember the feeling of holding that World Cup trophy aloft on the Lord’s balcony.
It may have been 20 years ago, but to me it still feels like yesterday.
The MCG and the SCG are magnificent venues, befitting of a World Cup final, but we all know that Lord’s is really where it’s at. They don’t call it the Home of Cricket for nothing.
Sunday (July 14) is going to be a magnificent occasion for both sets of players. One that they will remember forever – but particularly if you win it.
But the key is to play the opponent and not the occasion.
New Zealand have a bit of an advantage in that respect, a number of their guys played in the World Cup final four years ago.
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Contrast that with England who haven’t been to a Men’s World Cup final in 27 years, none of their players have sampled this occasion and it will be important that they adjust to it quickly.
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You have to try and keep the routine the same – as much as that is possible in what is obviously the biggest game of your life.
But while England might be at a disadvantage when it comes to experience, that is probably negated by the fact that they are in red-hot form and the home side.
They know Lord’s like the back of their hand and will have fanatical support from the stands which has the ability to lift a team in moments of need.
I don’t really go in for much talk of who are the favourites, all that matters most is who stays calm and in the present without looking too far ahead and worrying about what has just happened or what might happen.
But after the way England manhandled Australia in the semi-final they will be talked up by most if not all the experts but that’s exactly how New Zealand will want it.
They relish being the underdogs, we saw that in Manchester against India, and they are more than capable of repeating that upset if given any latitude.
England were far too good for New Zealand in their group game, which was only ten days ago, but all that goes out the window now.
This is one-off, with the ultimate prize awaiting.
Australia beat England at Lord’s convincingly in the groups but when it came to the big occasion at Edgbaston, England blew them away.
It’s very rare you see an Australia team barely given a sniff like that, England produced a 10/10 performance and if they do that again on Sunday it is hard to see the Black Caps beating them.
Jason Roy is the form player in the tournament right now, he is in just incredible touch and undoubtedly holds the key to this England batting line-up.
With the ball Jofra Archer is the X-factor, and as such these two are probably England’s key men heading into Sunday but I wouldn’t be surprised if Ben Stokes steps up to the plate and does something special for he is made for the big occasion.
Stokes’ catch in that first game was incredible and set the tone for the tournament. But I hope the moment of the World Cup is still to come on Sunday, that is where it should be.
If you want to beat New Zealand then you have to get to their captain.
Kane Williamson is the rock of their team. Their leader and their best batsman, he gives them that maturity, that strength of character and resilience.
He came out in a crucial situation against India, the ball was doing everything and they could have easily lost three or four wickets.
But he just said 'no' and, along with Ross Taylor, assessed the conditions and built a competitive score.
England will know how important it is to get rid of him – if they do that early then their chance of lifting a first
Men’s World Cup at the Home of Cricket greatly increase.
(Steve Waugh led Australia to 1999 World Cup title in England) Column courtesy: ICC
Last Updated Jul 14, 2019, 12:44 PM IST