Black Caps feel long-distance love

4:45 pm on 13 July 2019

New Zealand coach Gary Stead says his team are tapping into the support they are getting from home as TV-watching fans prepare to burn the midnight oil to watch them take on England in the Cricket World Cup final.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead. Photo: Photosport

The match is due to start at 9.30pm on Sunday night in New Zealand - as the nation's cricket team attempts to emulate the All Blacks rugby side by being crowned world champions for the first time.

"We've had a lot of supportive messages and we're really excited about what's ahead," Stead said at final's venue, Lord's.

"My understanding is it's on free-to-air back home, which is awesome.

"Many people will stay up late and I know a lot of them will be spending some late hours. Monday might be a holiday back home because most of New Zealand will be staying up watching the game."

England's eight-wicket thrashing of Australia in the semifinals, a mauling of New Zealand in the group stages and home advantage are all factors that make the hosts heavy favourites.

But Stead backed the Kiwis to tap into their ability to scrap for a result in order to spoil England's party.

"When you strip it back, it's just another game of cricket.

"We're excited about the opportunity ahead of us and we start the game with a 50-50 chance, we just need to be that bit better than England.

We know the force they've become and that's why they start the game as favourites.

"You can do all the scenario training you want but you can't replicate what goes on in a big moment like this.

"There is pressure on both teams because neither have won a World Cup. It's about how you handle it."

A process

England captain Eoin Morgan and his men are agonisingly close to completing a remarkable turnaround since being dumped out of the 2015 edition following a defeat to Bangladesh, a setback that changed an otherwise Ashes-obsessed England's approach to one-day cricket.

They have since reinvented themselves as a ruthless one-day juggernaut, routinely racking up 300-plus scores with a fearless brand of cricket to reclaim the top ODI ranking last year after a five-year gap.

"It's been a process for the last four years," Morgan said after his team ended Australia's title defence at Edgbaston.

"In 2015 we were way off the mark. We struggled against the top teams and the teams that sat below that, so there was quite a drastic change in the way we played."

Eoin Morgan hits yet another six during his world record in the Cricket World Cup 2019.


They now parade an intimidatingly deep lineup with Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, comfortably the most destructive opening pair in contemporary cricket, leading the charge upfront.

Morgan described Joe Root as the "glue" in the lineup which includes a bevy of swashbuckling match-winners such as Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.

They have had a potent pace attack but Barbados-born Jofra Archer's spectacular rise has added an extra dollop of hostility.

Morgan wary of 'difficult' New Zealand

Morgan, however, will not take anything for granted, especially against Kane Williamson's team who upstaged India in the first semi-final in Manchester.

Matt Henry and Trent Boult blew away India's vaunted top order in a low-scoring thriller and with Lockie Ferguson in the ranks, they could be quite a handful for any batting lineup.

"I think New Zealand throughout the whole tournament has been probably the hardest side to beat and the best side in the group stages," Morgan said.

"I think their performance in the semi-final was probably their best. They will be a difficult side to beat on Sunday."

The 2015 finalists began well before three back-to-back defeats nearly scuttled their campaign in the group stage.

Against India, Williamson and his men showed how to defend a low total against a strong lineup, complementing their accurate bowlers with trademark sharp fielding.

The only grey area is their batting, which relies too heavily on Williamson, comfortably their leading run scorer with a tournament-high 91-plus average.

Ross Taylor topscored for the team against India but opener Martin Guptill has been woefully out of form since his 73 not out in their opener against Sri Lanka.

- Reuters