England captain Eoin Morgan is desperate to seize a once-in-a-generation chance and get the nation talking about cricket in Sunday’s World Cup final against New Zealand at Lord’s.
The tournament hosts put in a magnificent performance in the semi-final against Ashes rivals Australia, bowling their visitors out for 223 before sprinting to an eight-wicket victory with 107 balls to spare.
It was bold, brave and brilliant stuff from the world’s number one side and they will now take on the Black Caps, with both nations hoping to land the trophy for the first time. For New Zealand it is a chance to go one better than their runners-up finish in 2015, while England are appearing in the showpiece for the first time since 1992.
For England the opportunity stretches even further thanks to an agreement between rights holders Sky and Channel 4, which will see the national side returning to a traditional free-to-air platform for the first time since the 2005 Ashes.
“I think Sunday is not a day to shy away from, it’s a day to look forward to,” said Morgan.
“We have created the opportunity to play in a World Cup final. It sounds pretty cool and it feels pretty good.
“It’s the game I love so it’s great news that it’s on free-to-air. Particularly given the 2005 Ashes was, for me, sort of the day cricket became cool. Throughout the whole summer, the game was on the front and back page of every newspaper going around, everyone was talking about and it that is really good for the game.
“It is obviously a very exciting time for everybody, ourselves included.”
The viewing public will be in for a fine show if England can replicate the outstanding all-round performance they turned in at Edgbaston.
Their new-ball bowlers set the tone – Chris Woakes’ three for 20 earned him man-of-the-match honours and Jofra Archer set a new England record of 19 wickets at a single tournament – before a freewheeling display with the bat.
Jason Roy struck nine fours and five towering sixes in his fearless 85, while Jonny Bairstow (34), Joe Root (49no) and Morgan (45no) all batted with absolute conviction.
It was all a far cry from the lame departure in the group stages four years ago, an experience that could easily have sunk Morgan’s captaincy.
“If you had offered us the position to play in a final the day after we were knocked out of 2015 World Cup, I would have laughed at you,” he said with wry smile.
“As a team we have learned to enjoy ourselves, particularly days like this, even if they don’t go well.
“Everybody out there on the field and even in the changing room loved every ball that was bowled. We had a bit of a day out. They have earned a beer or a glass of wine, definitely.”
The only thing that would have improved England’s day would have been a deserved century for Roy, who was given caught behind despite getting nowhere near the ball in question from Pat Cummins.
He instantly called for a review but the process was quashed when umpire Kumar Dharmasena was reminded by Australia that Bairstow had already burned England’s DRS allocation.
Roy was apoplectic at his ill-fortune, reacting angrily enough to earn two demerit points and a 30% match fee fine in a post-match hearing.
He accepted the sanction, which takes him to the brink of a ban, but his captain was indisposed at the time.
“I didn’t see exactly what happened, I was on the toilet,” he said.