The England captain Charlotte Edwards has spoken of the confidence surging through the team ahead of tonight's one-day World Cup final against New Zealand in Sydney.
England's long winning streak was brought to an end by Australia on Thursday at the North Sydney Oval, the venue for tonight's match, but Edwards feels their previous form will return. "We're going to go in with confidence, we'll have to be strong to beat them and it's going to be a great final," the 29-year-old said. "We hadn't lost in 17 before the blip the other day, which has given us a huge amount of confidence and we'll feel over the moon if we win. This is my fourth attempt at trying to reach a World Cup final and it has finally arrived. It is the biggest game of my career so far.
"The last four times we've played New Zealand we've beaten them. The team are very confident we can do well. We've kept the same group of players together and they are performing well. Claire Taylor and myself are performing at our peak and we are gelling as a team. When you enjoy your cricket you perform. Andrew Strauss has sent us a message, as has Rob Key with the Lions."
After reaching the first five World Cup finals – winning it in 1973 and 1993 – England have failed to reach the showpiece game in 16 years. New Zealand, contesting a fourth final in five tournaments, have lifted the trophy once, edging out Australia on home territory in 2000. Hosts Australia's previous dominance of the women's game is shown by the fact that their absence from tonight's match is only the second final they have failed to reach. The previous occasion also saw England meet New Zealand, the hosts prevailing by 67 runs at Lord's in 1993.
England's 2007 Ashes success in Australia has influenced the team, Edwards believes. "That was one of the big factors in why we have done so well. It was a massive turning point and we have kicked on from that. We have games televised and are getting good coverage, the more success we get is good for encouraging girls to play cricket. We have a massive summer ahead, with the Twenty20 World Cup and another Ashes. We're all coming home on Monday. Hopefully there'll be a trophy with us as well."
Sky Sports is showing the ICC Women's World Cup final exclusively live from 11pm tonight, Sky Sports 2