Relentless Australia will be out to underline their credentials as one of the game’s best teams against a battle-hardened English unit that will also be looking for greatness in a blockbuster ICC Women’s World Cup final on Sunday. Both England and Australia marched in their own way to the big day. Defending champions England were encouraged by an incredible turnaround that gave them the win in five games they had to win after losing their first three games of the tournament. While the Australians, who are chasing a record seventh world title, have extended their winning streak to 11 games.
Interestingly, despite having won 10 of the previous 11 World Cups, England and Australia will face each other for the first time in 34 years in an ICC World Cup final.
The two sides started their campaigns together in Hamilton nearly a month ago and will end together, one holding the trophy, the other watching the Hagley Oval.
Australia has only lost one World Cup final, but it was not far from setting the stage for Sunday’s final. In 2000, just down the road from Christchurch at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln, Australia lost the closest final the tournament has ever seen, beating New Zealand by just four runs.
That year, England achieved their worst ever World Cup finish in fifth before fighting back to take Australia’s trophy in 2009.
By doing so, they would be heading into a remarkable year as well as claiming their first and only T20 World Cup as well as a win in Ashes.
It’s something Australia hopes to emulate 13 years later, as they already hold the T20 trophy after securing it on home soil in 2020 before the Ashes wrapped up in February with two games left, but the one-day WK avoids them.
Vice captain Rachael Haynes already has a 2013 winners’ medal and she is well on her way to a league record, the lead-off hitter sitting on 429 runs for the tournament, 27 behind Debbie Hockley of New Zealand’s all-time best set in 1997.
That’s not the only record that could be broken on Sunday, as left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone has the chance to outdo Australia’s Lyn Fullston, whose 23-wickets tally in 1982 is still the target to beat.
Ecclestone sits at 20 wickets after taking her first international five-wicket haul in the semi-final win against South Africa that finished at six for 36, the best figures of an English bowler in a World Cup.
The left-hand spinner symbolizes England’s journey during the tournament, as she peaks at just the right time.
The 22-year-old started off with her worst ever numbers in ODI cricket with no wicket for 77 against Australia.
It highlighted how shaky a start England had; Lost catches allowed Australia 310 for three in the opening game before more field problems gave the West Indies a famous win.
South Africa defeated England for the first time in a World Cup in 22 years, leaving the defending champions reeling with three defeats from their first three matches and making their four remaining clashes a must-win.
And they won, beating India, New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh to secure their place in the knockouts and set up a rematch of the 2017 semi-final with South Africa.
England comfortably beat the Proteas to keep their hopes of a fifth title alive, and Ecclestone praised captain Heather Knight’s leadership as she led her side back from the brink.
Knight has the chance to make history as the first England captain to lead her team to consecutive trophies.
Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry is on track to take her place in the showpiece after missing the team’s last two games in New Zealand with a jersey number. Prior to the final, she underwent two crunch workouts in Christchurch.
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