Aus vs Eng, Women’s World Cup final
Australia may be riding an 11-match unbeaten streak, but England believe that won’t count for much in a World Cup final
Since then, knowing they were facing a virtual knockout every single time, England won five in a row, including a 137-run victory over South Africa in the semi-final. Knight said there was no single moment where things just clicked into gear but it did help when the team realised that a lot of the stuff that was was going wrong was within their control. Stuff like “fielding, bowling extras, poor shot selections”. So they could all be fixed, quickly.
“The stage is set a little bit for us to write a remarkable story but like I’ve said previously, I think it’s a completely fresh slate,” Knight said a day before the final. “A fresh day, fresh game where both us and Australia will go in as equals and its who performs the most on the day, who deals with the pressure of a World Cup final and knowing what’s at stake. So yeah, it would be a great story [if we win] but we’re going to have to bring our best cricket to beat Australia who obviously are a very good side.
“Yes, it’s obviously brilliant. To be in this position knowing where we were just a couple of weeks ago is remarkable. And it shows how things can change so quickly in sport. And just says a lot about the character in this group that we managed to obviously put ourselves in a position to be in a World Cup final and give us a chance to actually win that trophy. Remarkably proud of the group, proud of the staff that have been in the shift as well. So yeah, hopefully we can pay off all that hard work and all the lows I guess we’ve had over this trip and make winning if we do that even better.”
Recalling the league stage loss to Australia, in which England very nearly chased down 311, Knight admitted they had to get better at finishing games off. She was, however, very pleased that her bowling attack has been picking up steam throughout the tournament, helped in part by adopting a “knockout mentality”.
“I think, knowing the fact that we push them so close, I think is a really good sign,” Knight said of their rivalry with Australia. “I think in that first group game we pushed really hard, batted remarkably and actually I think our bowling’s starting to peak towards the back-end of the competition. I don’t think our bowling was quite on in that game, and the bowlers as a unit are working much better as a group now. So I don’t think it’s motivation [to do better]. I think it’s just remembering that we’re really not that far away from them. We obviously haven’t got the results against them recently. But on the day we definitely believe that we can beat them.
“We’ve had that knockout mentality for a long time. It almost feels a little bit like another game. I’m sure there’d be nerves and dealing with that but the fact that we’ve been able to do that when we’ve been under pressure, it’s been very pleasing and hopefully we can do it against for one more win.”
“Definitely, I think is a slight advantage, potentially,” Knight said. “We obviously know the conditions, we’ve played a few games here last year as well. We managed to play here before the World Cup. So yeah, we would definitely use that to our advantage, hopefully, it’s obviously going to be a fresh wicket, though. So both team have to assess quite quickly how it’s playing.”
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo