England head coach Trevor Bayliss knows his side must not listen to the noise of an expectant nation as they prepare for a first World Cup final in 27 years.
Eoin Morgan’s side produced an inspired display to complete a remarkable eight-wicket victory over Australia at Edgbaston and will meet New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday.
With the showpiece event also being broadcast on a free-to-air platform following an agreement between rights holders Sky and Channel 4, expectations will be elevated to another level.
Australian Bayliss, though, has called for calm as England look to go one better than they did in their last World Cup final appearance in 1992 when they lost against Imran Khan’s Pakistan by 22 runs in Melbourne.
“We had a chat in the changing room (at Edgbaston) afterwards and realised we have not won anything yet,” Bayliss said on BBC Radio 5 Live.
“There is going to be a lot of noise around ‘you guys are now the favourites’, and all this type of thing – we can’t listen to any of that.
“We have just got to concentrate on the way we have gone about our cricket over the past four years and what has got us to this point and go through our process.
“If we do that, we know we will play good cricket and the opposition will have to play even better to beat us.”
After Australia were all out for 223 in 49 overs, England opener Jason Roy struck a superb 85 from 65 balls – including nine fours and five sixes – as he put on yet another big stand with Jonny Bairstow to break the back of the run chase.
Roy was given out for an apparent glove behind despite getting nowhere near the ball in question from Pat Cummins.
With no DRS available, he reacted angrily enough to the decision to earn two demerit points and a 30 per cent match fee fine in a post-match hearing.
Bayliss, though, feels the 28-year-old can soon put the incident behind him.
“I think it shows the passion Jason has got for the game, and it is such a big game as well, when he was on the verge of scoring a hundred,” the England head coach said.
“He will learn from that and go on to bigger and better things, I am sure.”
The Surrey batsman is expected to be in contention for a place in the Ashes squad.
Bayliss, though, was giving little away as his current focus stays on the one-day format.
“We sit down about the 17th (July), three days after this World Cup final for that to be discussed,” he said.
“But he has certainly been in discussions over the last six to 12 months and I am certain he will be in discussions this time around also.”
Bayliss felt it was a “fantastic gesture” by rights holders Sky to help facilitate the national side returning to traditional free-to-air television for the first time since the 2005 Ashes.
“It is an opportunity to influence another generation of young cricketers – 2005 was 14 years ago – I am sure there are a number of players in this team who were pretty young when that was happening and it would have inspired those to greater things, so hopefully this can do a similar thing for the next generation,” he said.
Bayliss, 56, is set to step down at the end of his current deal in September, no matter what the summer brings.
“I have always been a believer that four or five years is long enough, whether you are doing well or not,” he said.
“It is time for a new voice for the boys, to hopefully take them to another level.”
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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.
This was the moment England cricket had been waiting for.
Four years after the 2015 World Cup debacle, they have reached the summit clash. The final stop in an arduous journey that started with transforming the way they played and viewed white-ball cricket.
For too long, England were ‘also rans’ in limited overs tournaments, apart from 2010 World T20 triumph, while maintaining their focus on red-ball cricket. While teams like Australia – and recently India – had mastered the art of being competitive in all forms of cricket, England need a booster shot to get their house in order for the home World Cup in 2019.
With Andrew Strauss as the director of cricket, Eoin Morgan – with Trevor Bayliss as coach – was given a free hand to revitalise their white-ball cricket. And what they have managed in four years is nothing short of revolutionary.
Very few can claim to change the way the game is played. England can legitimately be called pioneers of a new form of ‘total cricket’ that emphasises attacking from the outset – with the ball, in the field and especially with the bat.
In the years leading up to the World Cup, England had perfected the art of batting the opposition out of the match with scores of 350 and above with a regularity never before seen in the game. It is no surprise that the two highest scores in ODI cricket – 444 and 481 – were scored by England in the last three years.
Morgan’s boys were expected to coast into the 2019 World Cup semis but surprisingly slow and challenging pitches, plus a shock defeat to Sri Lanka and then to Australia, saw them wobble. With their backs to the wall, England defeated India and New Zealand to enter the last-four.
There, Australia won a crucial toss in Birmingham and it looked like the defending champions would run away with the game in good batting conditions. But Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer gave the Aussie top order a lesson for the ages – and the upcoming Ashes – as the defending champions could only muster 223.
If Aaron Finch though his quicks would do what the Kiwis did to India’s batting line-up, he was in for a shock as Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow hit Mitchell Starc and co with such force, they didn’t know whether to hold fort or retreat.
Australia had never lost a World Cup semi-final, but Thursday saw a crushing first as England chased down the runs with more than 100 balls to spare.
Next up for England are New Zealand in the final at Lord’s on Sunday. The entire cricketing world and also the whole of England – for the first time in 14 years now that cricket will be aired on free-to-air TV in the UK – will be watching Morgan and co pursue the elusive World Cup trophy.
Every era has its pioneers. England have without doubt set a new benchmark in ODI cricket.
On Sunday, a generation of youngsters in England that might struggle to even name the England XI will get to witness their own pioneers fight for a world crown. And if England do pull it off, they will truly be worthy winners.