Australia were comfortably second best in an Ashes-flavoured knockout at Edgbaston, bowled out for 223 after winning the toss and then blown off the park as their hosts raced to an eight-wicket win inside 33 overs.
Jason Roy batted brilliantly for a fierce 85 and leg-spinner Adil Rashid scooped tournament-best figure of three for 54, but Finch had no doubt about the key passage of play.
Shortly after winning the toss he was dismissed for a golden duck, lbw to Archer’s first ball, then watched as Woakes accounted for David Warner and Peter Handscomb in a compelling opening burst that left the away side 14 for three.
Australia might have found stability in the form of a century stand between Steve Smith (85) and Alex Carey (46), but they never managed to recover their lost momentum.
“All in all we were totally outplayed to be honest, all throughout the day,” said a dejected Finch.
“But the damage was really done with the ball. Definitely in the first ten overs of the game. It was a bit of a frantic start, three-for in the powerplay.
“They’ve got bowlers that hit the seam and if there is anything in the wicket, they will certainly get it out of it. Chris Woakes is a world-class bowler, puts it in the right area time and time again, and Archer is getting better and better.”
The result made Finch the first Australian captain to taste defeat in the last four of a World Cup and denied him the chance to add a sixth title to his country’s record haul.
Yet when he took over as skipper of an off-form and directionless squad last autumn, merely reaching this stage seemed fanciful.
He was left balancing conflicting emotions of pride and regret.
“In terms of where we were 12 months ago, obviously I think we have made a huge amount of progress and I’m really proud of everyone involved for how much hard work they’ve put in and how far we have come,” he said.
“But at the same time we came here today to win a semi-final and get ourselves into a position to win another World Cup.
“So it was really disappointing how it ended, especially to put up probably one of our worst performances in the tournament.”
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England captain Eoin Morgan called seamer Chris Woakes one of the best new-ball bowlers in the world as the hosts crushed Australia by eight wickets to book a place in the 2019 World Cup final.
Woakes dismissed opener David Warner – caught at slip – and then castled new man Peter Handscomb to leave Australia reeling at 14-3, a position from where the Aussies never recovered. Jason Roy then smashed a whirlwind 85 as England reached the 224-run target with 107 balls to spare.
After the win, an elated Morgan hailed the match-winning spell of 3-20 from Woakes.
“He is a cool customer, goes about his business day in day out. He’s one of the best in the first 10 overs over the last couple of years. Him and Jofra (Archer) were outstanding and the other guys backed that up, which allowed us to stay on top,” Morgan said in Birmingham.
Man-of-the-match Woakes revealed the players were anxious and he was pleased to have contributed to a historic run to the final.
“I am speechless actually. Incredible performance from the team, starting with the bowling and the way the guys finished was outstanding. There were some nerves, a few anxious people in the dressing room. The way we produced the goods showed how good we are,” Woakes said.
England lost all three previous World Cup finals – against the West Indies in 1979, Australia in 1987 and Pakistan in 1992. Woakes said his team will try to block out thoughts of history and concentrate on the job.
“We have tried not to think about getting to the final, it hasn’t sunk in yet,” he said. “We were tipped as favourites so it was important to get to the semi-final in the first place and then to win this in this fashion against this Australia side on the best ground in the world is amazing.”
England’s World Cup final showdown with New Zealand will be screened free to air on Channel 4 and More 4, TV bosses have announced.
Channel 4 has struck a deal with Sky Sports, which holds the UK broadcast rights for the tournament, to also show the match at Lord’s and will combine it with its live coverage of the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.
Live cricket had not been available on free-to-air TV in the UK since England’s 2005 Ashes series win over Australia.
Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon said: “This is fantastic news for cricket fans and the nation. This Sunday is a massive day for British sport with England tantalisingly close to lifting the Cricket World Cup for the first time and Lewis Hamilton setting his sights on his seventh win at Silverstone – all live on Channel 4.”
Channel 4 will carry Sky’s coverage of the cricket from 9am, but the game will move to More 4 at 1.15pm as Formula 1 takes over before returning after the race.
Mahon added: “The big winners of this strong partnership between Channel 4 and Sky are sports fans and viewers who want to come together for these big sporting occasions.”
The match will also be broadcast on Sky 1 as well as the network’s dedicated World Cup channel and Sky Sports Main Event.
Sky UK and Ireland chief executive Stephen Van Rooyen said: “England in the final on home soil is a huge moment for sport in this country and we are proud to be the host broadcaster.
“Thanks to our strong relationship with Channel 4, we are partnering to make the game available to everyone, so the whole country can get behind England and be part of a special national sporting event.”