Former champions England and the New Zealand White Ferns will try to add another title to its collection when they square-off in the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 at North Sydney Oval, Sydney.
England has won the World Cup twice – the inaugural tournament in 1973 on its home turf and then in 1993 when it defeated New Zealand in the final by 67 runs – while New Zealand’s only success has come in 2000 in its backyard when it beat Australia in a dramatic final by four runs.
White Ferns have winning advantage
The two teams have previously met 49 times with New Zealand winning 29 matches and England 18. Their first match against each other in the 1982 World Cup ended in a tie after both the sides finished on 147 at Auckland while one match was abandoned.
The two sides have qualified for the much-awaited final after finishing in the top two of the Super Six stage. After winning their respective groups, both the sides lost one match each in the Super Six stage – England defeating New Zealand by 31 runs last week before losing to Australia by eight wickets on Thursday.
The two teams have showed a lot of flare, aggression, method and purpose behind their performances in the last couple of weeks which is evident from their convincing victories. New Zealand defeated defending champion Australia by 13 runs (D/L Method), West Indies by 56 runs, South Africa by 199 runs, India by five wickets and Pakistan by 223 runs while England also beat Sri Lanka by 100 runs, India by nine wickets, Pakistan by eight wickets and the West Indies by 146 runs.
The players of the two sides are also peaking at the right time with New Zealand’s Suzie Bates clobbering 19 fours and six sixes in a 105-ball 168 against Pakistan on Thursday. She is the second leading run-getter in the tournament after England’s Claire Taylor who has scored 303 runs to date, including a century against Sri Lanka and an unbeaten 69 against India.
Tiffen, Satterthwaite McGlashan in form of NZ - Atkins, Taylor, Edwards for England
Other in-form New Zealand batters include captain Haidee Tiffen, who has scored 249 runs, Amy Satterthwaite (162) and Sara McGlashan (153) while for England openers Caroline Atkins (211) and Sarah Taylor (177) have shown remarkable consistency at the top of the order while captain Charlotte Edwards, ICC’s Women’s Player of the Year in 2008, has yet to find her magical touch despite scoring 127 runs.
England’s Laura Marsh has undoubtedly been the find of the tournament. The 22-year-old off-spinner from Kent has taken 14 wickets so far at an average of 9.28 while New Zealand vice-captain Aimee Mason is her side’s most successful bowler with nine wickets at an average of 14.33.
The two sides had their final workouts on Saturday morning ahead of Sunday’s final and both the captains were confident and excited in their pre-match press conferences.
Tiffen commends her hardworking team
Haidee Tiffen said: “We are really excited about tomorrow’s game and have been working extremely hard over the last couple of weeks. At the same time, we have been improving on our overall performance on the way.”
“We have been learning as we went along and we have made sure we have given our players plenty of opportunity. That game against Pakistan was great as we got a good hit out.”
Tiffen, who has scored 2,889 runs in 116 ODIs and will equal Maia Lewis’ record of captaining New Zealand in most ODIs (45) on Sunday, said her team would not only depend on Bates. “Against Pakistan, Suzie batted the best I have ever seen of her. She is an outstanding player for us but there were some other good performances on that day and all through the tournament.
“Look, you will be nervous if you are not nervous. There will be some nerves around - that is a positive thing. But it’s all about how you channelize those nerves.”
Haidee, who was also a member of the New Zealand side that won the title in 2000, refused to be drawn into comparing the present side with Emily Drumm’s side. “The memories of the 2000 World Cup are very close to my heart. It is certainly the highlight of my career. Whilst the teams are different, certainly the passion, commitment and pride for our country are evident in both the teams. We are looking forward to (Sunday’s) occasion and the girls have been doing very well.”
In sharp contrast, Charlotte Edwards has been in the three previous semi-finals but will be making her first appearance in the final. She is not only her country’s most experienced player with 123 caps, she is also the most successful batter with 3,647 runs.
Edwards highlights experience as an advantage
Edwards said Sunday’s match would be the biggest match of her career. “I have played in a lot of big games but never in a World Cup final. I am looking forward to tomorrow which will be the biggest game of my career. The World Cup comes only after four years and I think I am lucky to be in the final after three semi-finals,” she said.
“Hopefully, Claire Taylor’s and my experience will see the girls through tomorrow. The good thing about our team is we have youngsters and all they know is success at the moment. It is a good mixture of youth and experience and we have been telling the youngsters to just enjoy the day as not many people play in a World Cup final.
“Yesterday was quite a long day, having a day off. But yes, there is excitement today and we are just ready to play cricket. This is something we have worked towards for a number of years now and we can’t wait for tomorrow to happen and get underway.
“Tomorrow’s match will be all about which team handles the pressure better and whose key players perform. These are two very good and evenly matched teams and the team that plays best cricket on Sunday will win the match.
“On Thursday (against Australia), there was a minor blip but we have been playing good cricket. We have a lot of confidence and are going along nicely.”
Match referee Brian Aldridge will lead the playing control team on Sunday. Steve Davis of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires and Brian Jerling of the International Panel will be the on-field umpires while Tyron Wijewardena has been named as third umpire and Jeff Brookes will be the fourth umpire.
The player of the tournament will be announced on Sunday while the ICC Team of the Tournament will be named on Monday by a five-member selection panel that includes Belinda Clark, Brian Aldridge, Danny Morrison, Kathy Cross and Allison Mitchell.
Follow: Ball-by-ball coverage on the www.blackcaps.co.nz website
Watch: Live on SKY Sport 3
Listen: Commentary on Radio Sport and ABC Australia