We’ve been waiting an awfully long time for an England limited overs side to put in a complete performance. Many of us doubted whether it was even possible. But today is finally happened. And it happened on a big stage and on a big occasion too.
I’m not sure what happened to the bowling attack that represented England in the group stages (and warm up matches), but today they were nowhere to be seen. Instead we fielded a crack outfit that performed with discipline, accuracy and consistency.
Gone were the daft slower ball bouncers, longhops, bizarre theories and needless variations. Instead we kept it simple: at the death our pacemen simply aimed for the blockhole. Hallelujah!
Although New Zealand were surprisingly passive in the final ten overs of their innings – they looked static at the crease and did little to put our bowlers off their lines and lengths – full credit must go to the likes of Jordan and Stokes. They’re growing in confidence and did a superb job. Even Moeen Ali bowled very well. Ish and Mitchell who?
At the halfway stage New Zealand’s 153 never looked competitive. They were probably thirty runs short. Only nerves and a disastrous lack of composure was likely to undermine our chase.
That’s why England’s approach was exactly what the doctor ordered: attacking from the outset. Over analysis has crippled our teams for years. Thank heavens this horrible habit has been consigned to the dustbin. Even club cricketers know that the best way to chase small totals is to stay positive. Why let the opposition bowlers settle and give them a foothold in the game they don’t deserve?
Jason Roy, of course, epitomised England’s approach. He didn’t change his game-plan: he just whacked it as usual. After a couple of edges flew to the boundary, everyone knew it was our day. He put his boot on New Zealand’s throats ruthlessly.
When Roy was dismissed, there was a mini intake of breath when the captain departed for yet another golden duck, but Root and Buttler kept their composure and knocked the runs off with consummate ease. It was glorious. And so untypically English.
Whether we win the final or not – and I suspect it will be not* – England have exceeded all expectations in this tournament. They turgid days or Peter Moores and Ashley Giles are firmly in the rear-view mirror. Supporting England’s limited overs teams is now a lot of fun. That in itself is a triumph – whatever happens in Sunday’s final.
*Writing us off every game seems to be working rather nicely. Why change now?