On July 14, England would make their fourth appearance in a World Cup final. While South Africa are considered chokers, England have also had their fair share of slips on the big stage. Apart from losses in all three of the World Cup finals, they have also lost two Champions Trophy finals.
This time though, things look different as there is a more robust, flamboyant and aggressive English team heading into the big match. But as fans get ready for the biggest contest in ODI cricket's showpiece event, let's look back at England's three previous experiences of a World Cup final.
1979 – Vs West Indies (Lord's)
In the very second World Cup ever, England were competing against the mighty West Indies for the title of world champions. Considering how strong the Caribbean side under Clive Lloyd was, England's loss was not much of a surprise. However, there was enough drama in the match to render it a memorable day of cricket. First, Sir Vivian Richards scored a hundred to put the hosts in trouble. However, in what was an extremely rare occurrence, he was overshadowed by a much more electric innings from Collis King, a player who didn't do much else in his career, who smashed 86 off just 66 balls to take the Windies to 286/9.
England opened the innings with Geoffrey Boycott and Mike Brearley. The two batted in such a conservative manner that the match got away from their team. There was also some controversy as Lloyd had dropped a catch offered by Boycott. Some people suggested that the West Indian captain did that deliberately to ensure that the English opener stays at the crease and the scoring rate remains low. That may not be true but the slow opening partnership eventually led to England losing their first World Cup final by 92 runs.
1987 – Vs Australia (Eden Gardens)
Mention this match to any cricket fan and the first thing that comes to their mind is Mike Gatting's reverse sweep. In the match, Australia scored 253/5 in their 50 overs with the top score coming from David Boon (75). England were the favourites as they reached 135/2 in their innings. But then, when Allan Border was bowling his gentle left-arm spin, Gatting decided to play the reverse sweep – a common shot these days but a highly exotic and dangerous one in those times – and lost his wicket. This turned the match and proved to be a decisive moment as England lost by just seven runs, ending up with a score of 246/8 in 50 overs.
1992 – Vs Pakistan (MCG)
Pakistan batted first in this match and in what turned out to be a masterstroke, their captain Imran Khan decided to bat at no. 3. He played a crucial knock of 72 and Pakistan ended up with a competitive but not imposing score of 249. England lost wickets early but had a recovery thanks to Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother. They had reached the score of 141/4 and had a decent chance of winning. But then, Wasim Akram produced the two most famous deliveries in the history of Pakistan cricket to put the match in his team's bag.
The first one was angled in to Lamb with Akram bowling round the wicket and straightened sharply to beat the outside edge and hit the off-stump. The next delivery, to new man Chris Lewis, was again angled in from round the wicket but this one swung in, rather than away, and so sharply that it went through the gap between bat and pad to knock the stumps. These two devastating and most famous examples of the wonder of reverse swing from Akram led to Pakistan becoming World Champions as they won the game by 22 runs.
So, Boycott and Brearley's slow batting, Gatting's reverse sweep and Akram's magic. These three things have prevented England from becoming world champions. What will it be this time? A Kane Williamson masterpiece, Trent Boult in-swinger, Martin Guptill catch?
Or will the fourth time prove lucky for the three lions? Let's wait and see!