Champions Trophy: Alastair Cook challenges players to handle pressure of final and seize the day
England beat South Africa to advance
Thursday 20 June 2013
Alastair Cook expects England to seize the chance to make history on Sunday by winning their first global 50-over title.
Cook's team crushed South Africa in such emphatic fashion that the Proteas' coach, Gary Kirsten, admitted they had lived up to their "chokers" tag.
For England, there were only reasons to celebrate: a seven-wicket victory that took them to Sunday's final at Edgbaston and the news that their absent team-mate Tim Bresnan had become a father.
Max Geoffrey Bresnan was born at 3pm and Cook is confident that, regardless of whether India or Sri Lanka win today's second semi-final in Cardiff, the young Bresnan will be able to admire a Champions Trophy winner's medal in the future.
"We heard that Tim's wife, Hannah, had given birth and it's fantastic news," said Cook. "It was a pretty good day and the guys are very chuffed for him.
"Can we win? Without a doubt, and it would be a massive achievement. We last reached the final of this tournament in 2004 [when England lost to West Indies at The Oval], so it's very hard to do.
"To reach the final, given the quality of opponents we have faced, is a great achievement, and hopefully it won't stop there. As a kid, you grow up wanting to play in finals, even if it's only the final of an Under-13 football tournament.
"Our sights now are a little bit higher but finals can bring out the best in people. This side has delivered when the chips have been down and the pressure has been at its highest. I've got no doubt we'll play well on Sunday. I'm fully confident in the lads and hopefully it's our turn.
"At the start of the summer, one of our goals was to win the Champions Trophy and we now have a great chance to do that."
James Tredwell, chosen because England decided not to risk Graeme Swann's calf injury, was named man of the match for his 3 for 19 that helped his team dismiss South Africa for 175 inside 39 overs, after winning the toss.
He was run close by Jonathan Trott, whose unbeaten 82 anchored the chase, which was safely completed with more than 12 overs to spare.
The defeat was South Africa's eighth in the semi-finals of a global limited-overs tournament. Kirsten leaves after this tournament and asked whether his team had choked, he admitted: "I think it has happened again. We have to be honest with ourselves: I think we did choke the game.
"It's an uncomfortable word but we have to accept that is what it is. It's a dark mist that hangs over South African cricket in knockout events and we don't know the answer. We've tried to overcome it but we haven't."
Understandably, Cook preferred to concentrate on the talents of his own team rather than their opponents' deficiencies.
"I don't think they choked," he added. "When you're out there, you don't want to use those terms. We didn't allow them to play and we should give ourselves some credit for that."
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