Yorkshire overseas stars prepare for World Cup final

Three of Yorkshire’s overseas signings for the coming summer season are expected to take the field in this weekend’s cricket World Cup final.

Aaron Finch will play in this weekend's World Cup final.
Aaron Finch will play in this weekend's World Cup final.

Australians Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell will line-up opposite New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson in Sunday’s showdown, a match which will be officiated by Yorkshire umpire Richard Kettleborough.

The Australians will also field former Yorkshire bowler Mitchell Starc who spent time at Headingley in 2012.

Finch, Maxwell and Williamson will all play a part in Yorkshire’s forthcoming campaign with Pakistan batsman Younus Khan completing the set.

For Finch, the final offers him a chance to write his name into Australian cricket history after what has been a relatively quiet tournament for him.

He and David Warner offer up one of the most explosive opening partnerships in the world, but has only intermittently fired over the past six weeks as Australia have nonetheless booked their place in Sunday’s MCG final against their fellow tournament co-hosts.

Victorian Finch, who will have home comforts on the famously huge playing area, made only his second half-century of the campaign in Australia’s semi-final win over India in Sydney.

But it was at the MCG where he smashed hapless England for 135 on Valentine’s Day, and he returns in good heart after his hard-earned 81 against the defending champions on Thursday.

“It wasn’t my most fluid innings but it was nice to get through that,” he said.

“I was under the pump - I hadn’t scored any runs for a while.

“I felt like I was playing really well. It’s just one of those things - it didn’t translate into a hell of a lot of runs lately.

“But I hope I’m past that and there’s some more runs to come.”

Warner has had one feast - a career-best 178 against Afghanistan in Perth - and, by his standards, some famine in the World Cup so far.

Like Finch, playing in the tournament for the first time, he said: “It’s just those easy ‘outs’ that are causing a bit of a stir in my mind.”

Warner was caught from a leading edge into the ring field against India, and added: “It’s not great to have big edges (on your bat) sometimes.

“But every time I’ve come in I’ve looked a million dollars, I’ve hit every ball in the middle and I’ve just got to find a way to get past that (first) 10 overs, be clinical and bat deep.”

The Kiwis need to get their minds right too, of course, to upset the odds.

They are being portrayed as outsiders but remain the only unbeaten team in the tournament and scored a narrow victory over Australia in an epic, low-scoring group match in Auckland at the end of last month.

Much has been made of Australia’s home advantage for the rematch, but New Zealand insist they are not fazed.

Seamer Matt Henry was not supposed to be involved at all until injury intervened for Adam Milne.

Henry was brought into the squad as a replacement and acquitted himself well for economical figures in Tuesday’s semi-final win over South Africa.

He said: “This is definitely something I will never forget.

“As a kid, you grow up pretending to be these [cricket] heroes, like playing with my brother out the back and going through scenarios like running in to bowl at a World Cup final.

“You have to pinch yourself.

“I’ve been presented with an opportunity which I’m very grateful for and excited about.”

Fellow seamer Tim Southee will take the new ball alongside Trent Boult, and is confident - whatever the conditions.

“We’re not too worried about the size of the ground,” said Southee.

“It’s a dream come true for all the guys. As a kid growing up, you either want to be an All Black or a Black Cap.

“This is as good as it gets, taking on Australia in Australia on one of the best cricket grounds in the world.”

Swing is the forte for Southee and Boult, but attuning to the sell-out atmosphere will be the starting point.

“There’s going to be a lot of people. It’s going to be loud,” said Southee.

“There will be close to 100,000 people screaming.

“It will be interesting to see what it’s like here.”

Brendon McCullum’s visitors, like Michael Clarke’s hosts, appear set to name an unchanged team with veteran left-arm orthodox Daniel Vettori expected to be fit after all.