Waugh warns England not to underestimate New Zealand

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Steve Waugh’s Australia won the World Cup in 1999 (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Former World Cup-winning captain Steve Waugh has warned England they will need to bring their A game to Lord’s if they are to win the competition for the first time.

The hosts saw off Australia in emphatic fashion on Thursday to reach their first World Cup final since 1992.

They meet New Zealand, another country yet to lift the trophy, on Sunday and go into the clash as heavy favourites.

Eoin Morgan’s side thrashed their final opponents by 119 runs in their pool-stage match at Chester-le-Street but Waugh – who captained Australia to success in the 1999 final at Lord’s – believes it will be different when the sides meet for a second time with the trophy at stake.

Asked by PA if England could win if they underestimate the challenge before them, he replied: “Definitely not.

“New Zealand will want England to do that, that is the way they play their best cricket – underdogs and expecting people to underestimate them.

“But they have got a quality attack New Zealand and they can knock you over, they have got all-round bowlers and are a very good fielding side, that is the strength of New Zealand, they don’t miss much in the field.

Waugh faced New Zealand on many occasions as a player
Waugh faced New Zealand on many occasions as a player (David Jones/PA)

“So if England slip up and give them opportunities they will take them, so England will have to bring their A-game to win this World Cup final, they can’t cruise along and expect to win it – they have got to play good cricket.”

England’s win over New Zealand followed victory over India as the hosts won their final two pool games to secure qualification for the semi-finals.

But they saved their best for Edgbaston, dismantling Australia to win by eight wickets with Waugh – who also won the World Cup in 1987 with victory over England – certain England can take more from that win than the earlier success over new Zealand.

“Well of course,” he replied when asked if England will be buoyed by their impressive win on Thursday.

“They played pretty much the perfect game of one-day cricket in a big occasion, a semi-final against Australia when there was a lot of pressure so that will give them a lot of confidence going into Sunday no doubt.

“Australia beat England in their pool match and pretty comprehensively so, it doesn’t really matter.

“It is a one-off game, a World Cup final, neither side have won the competition before so there is a little extra incentive for both countries.

“It is about enjoying the experience and relaxing, it is Lord’s, the home of cricket and you may never play a game as big as this in the rest of your career so it is about concentrating but at the same time relaxing and focusing on your skills.”

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