London: The whole of England, host nation of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, will be at a standstill on Sunday — with the big hope that four-time finalists will lift the trophy for the first time. The England skipper has been constantly answering queries over whether he will be able to do what many illustrious predecessors could not do since the inception of the World Cup in 1975.
The first question to Eoin Morgan at the prematch press conference was on how much this game means to English cricket. Morgan, who has remained calm throughout despite the mounting pressure to win, said: “It means a huge amount to me and everybody in the changing room. It’s a culmination of four years of hard work, dedication, a lot of planning and it presents a huge opportunity to go on and try and win a World Cup.”
Asked if he had been visualising himself of lifting the World Cup, Morgan said: “I haven’t allowed myself to think about lifting the trophy. Cricket, and sport in particular, is very fickle. If you ever get ahead, it always seems to bite you in the backside. And should we win it, it will be awesome for the game around the country.”
After a pause, he added that lifting the trophy will be great for the coming generation. “I think it will be quite iconic for the young kids’ memory if they are watching it at home and we manage to lift the trophy,” he said.
For New Zealand too, a first-ever triumph can serve as a tremendous boost for the game in their country.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson was asked what would be his message to anyone who has never picked up a bat and ball in his country, and what this opportunity of playing in a final could do for cricket in his country where rugby is the leading sport? “It’s obviously a really special occasion tomorrow, especially to be involved in a World Cup and representing your country. But what makes it even more special is to turn up here at the home of cricket and be involved in a final,” revealed Williamson.
The buzz in both the countries regarding the final is enormous. Speaking about what is going on around the country, Morgan said: “I think for everybody around the country, the support we’ve had throughout has been unquestionable and that — as a team — makes us feel extremely lucky to have that sort of support.”
Morgan is also seeing it as another opportunity to boost the game overall. “I think it presents another opportunity for both teams and the ICC to sell the game on a huge platform. Two very strong sides hopefully produces a really good game of cricket tomorrow. It’s on terrestrial television around the country and obviously various outlets online. So it presents a huge opportunity for us to sell this great game.”
Morgan is aware of the record that before England triumphed over New Zealand in the round-robin stage this time, they hadn’t beaten the Kiwis in the World Cup since 1983, suffering a string of five consecutive defeats. He is cautious about being too confident and predict that it could be a win for his side. “It’s difficult to say because they are such a stable side. They offer threats throughout with the ball and they’re just a stable side with the bat. I think there will be times throughout the game tomorrow where it could be won or lost, but I think it will be a really good game of cricket.”
Williamson was asked whether he was getting a sense of how big it is back home in New Zealand. His response was: “We’ve seen a lot of support come through, which is awesome. I suppose the last World Cup was at home and a lot of the attention was there on your doorstep and we had crowds of Kiwis coming to every game. It was also special that we were playing at home.
“Over here, we’ve got a few scattered in among the majority of opposition crowds but that’s great as well and I know we’re getting a lot of support from a long way off.”