Steve Waugh, who captained England to the World Cup triumph in 1999, says Eoin Morgan's side is one of the best one-day teams he's seen and would compete against anyone of the previous eras.
Eoin Morgan's England one-day team are already one of the best of any era – according to former Australian captain Steve Waugh.
But to go down in history they need finish off the job on Sunday and claim an historic first ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup crown.
Waugh won two World Cups in his 19-year international career – including lifting the trophy as captain at Lord’s in 1999 – and was blown away by the way England dispatched his compatriots in Thursday’s semi-final.
“This England team play without fear and that is very difficult to do in professional sport,” said Waugh, who was attending the inaugural Criiio Cup in Trafalgar Square.
“There is no weakness in the side, they field very well, they bat all the way down and have numerous bowling options.
“It is one of the best one-day teams I have seen and would compete against anyone of the previous eras.
“But ultimately they will be judged on their performance on Sunday.
“If they win that they may go down as one of the great one-day sides. If they lose then they are back to being one of the other teams that didn’t quite make it.
“But they have the potential to be a great one-day team.”
The criiio cup sees six social cricket teams from Brazil, Rwanda, Germany, England, Indonesia and India showcase the power and impact of social cricket by playing their own version of the sport in the central London fan park, two days ahead of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup final at Lord’s.
The six teams have been selected from all corners of the world, based on the impact cricket has had on their communities. They hail from a wide variety of community and social cricket initiatives, including women’s empowerment and engagement programs, refugee integration and semi-professional tennis-ball leagues.
Waugh added: “The fundamental aim of criiio is to celebrate street cricket.
"That’s how I started playing the game back in Australia, we had different pitches in the front yard, the back yard, the driveway and we made stumps with garbage bins and drew chalk on the garage door.
“We had bikes and scooters and the swimming pool as imaginary fielders, it is about imagination.
“Street cricket is all about that, if you have the spirt and the willing, you can play a game of cricket anytime and anywhere.
“We want to develop cricket all around the world, it is good that new countries are getting involved. Cricket is spreading its wings.
“Afghanistan have been a success story in the last couple of years, there is potential for other counties to do that.
“There have got to be others who can make that next step so we can globalise that sport.”
Either England or New Zealand will make history on Sunday as first-time winners of the game’s ultimate prize.
And Waugh urged the players to rise to the occasion.
He added: “World Cup finals are about not relying on other people to do the job for you. You have got to step up to the plate. To win World Cups you have to be street-smart
“It would be very important for New Zealand, it’s a great rugby country with the greatest team in the world in the All Blacks.
“Cricket is always hoping to get a foothold so for them to make the final and potentially win would be game-changing for New Zealand.
“England have been to three World Cup finals, and it’s a passionate country. Either side wins, it’s going to be great for their country.
“It’s exciting, the people get behind it and feel they are a part of it.”
(International Cricket Council)