WHAT A day tomorrow promises to be. What a wonderful prospect for so many cricket fans.
A day that is likely to be etched into the memory.
A day to be treasured for many years to come.
Yes, day two of Yorkshire’s County Championship match against Somerset could well be a cracker. Why, I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks now.
Might be a good day, too, down in London, where England play New Zealand in the World Cup final at Lord’s.
Yes, Sunday July 14, 2019, has all the makings of being a memorable day.
Joking aside, this is the date to which England have been working now for the past four years, the date of destiny for their white-ball team.
Ever since they were humiliated at the last World Cup, England have ripped up the script and begun again.
Batsmen have been given the licence to attack; bowlers have been encouraged to be aggressive and take wickets.
Since 2015, England have become the best one-day team in the world in both reality and ranking points.
Beat New Zealand tomorrow, and Eoin Morgan and his men will have the silverware to prove it.
At times like this, I am reminded of the immortal words of snooker commentator Jack Karnehm, who, as Cliff Thorburn settled over the final black en route to his 147 at the Crucible in 1983, whispered the pitch-perfect: “Oh, good luck, mate...”
For all any English cricket fan can do now is extend that same sentiment to Morgan, who has presided over one of the greatest transformations – possibly the greatest – in England’s cricketing history.
Indeed, if anyone had said four years ago that England would not only win the World Cup but also be favourites to do so, they could have expected to enjoy what remained of their time on this earthly sphere confined to a room with padded walls.
The metamorphosis from white-ball hopers to world champions-elect has been as brilliant as the players who have made it happen – not least Morgan himself, backed by such as Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Adil Rashid – not forgetting David Willey, so unlucky not to have been in the final squad after England fast-tracked Jofra Archer.
No, whatever the result tomorrow, England, in a sense, are already winners, in that they have revolutionised the one-day game not only in this country, but also around the world, where their template is quite rightly envied in the hope of emulation. A piece of silverware is not absolutely essential to emphasise that fact, however desirable and deserved it may be.
Of course, having got this far, England are desperate to win their first 50-over trophy against opponents who, under the leadership of sometime Yorkshire batsman Kane Williamson, will be no pushovers and who remain the proverbial cricketing dark horses; one underestimates New Zealand like the tranquil sea.
Before the World Cup began, I always felt that a successful campaign for England would be to reach the final, bearing in mind that they fell at the semi-final stage of the 2017 Champions Trophy and that pretty much anything can happen in a final.
However, if any side deserves to lift the cup, it is surely England, who showed by their complete evisceration – for that is what it was – of Australia in the semi-final at Edgbaston that they are, to all intents and purposes, already kings of white-ball cricket, particularly as that result came hot on the heels of must-win group games against India and New Zealand after stumbles against such as Sri Lanka at Headingley.
That defeat in Leeds, followed immediately by another to Australia at Lord’s and preceded by one against Pakistan at Trent Bridge, feels like a million years ago now, a bit like memories of long-lost schooldays.
This is a side that is not only back on track, but which also has so much momentum, so much wind in its sails, that it would seem as irresistible as gravity.
So, Eoin, as the nation wishes you well, whether from the best seats in the Lord’s pavilion, from day two of the Championship game at Headingley, or from wherever it may be, one can only echo the words of Jack Karnehm and say, with gratitude and feeling, “Oh, good luck, mate…”