England v Australia, World Twenty20 final, Barbados May 15, 2010

Both teams set for a showpiece final

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The two strongest teams at the World Twenty20 have made the final, but the question remains whether England are good enough to end Australia's winning run at the last hurdle.

Michael Clarke's side have shown they really can win from any position with batting collapses and monumental chases no barrier to the confidence surging through the line-up. England, though, have plenty of belief of their own after producing their most confident cricket in coloured clothes since 1992.

It's a mouthwatering prospect. Just to add spice to the occasion there has, of course, been mention of the A word. It's still six months until the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, but such is the hyped nature of that duel that this is already being viewed as the start of the countdown. The captains have slightly differing views.

"I don't think you need any extra motivation. This is a World Cup final, no matter who you're playing against," Paul Collingwood said. "This is what it's all about; this is why we play the game of cricket. This is literally the ultimate. You've got through to a World Cup final; you're playing against the old enemy, Australia. It doesn't get much better than this."

Clarke added that it wouldn't compensate for losing the Ashes last year but would set the ball rolling nicely for the next contest. "It won't make up for it, but it would be a fantastic start to what is going to be a great summer back at home," he said.

"I'm certain every Australian and every English person loves seeing that battle. It's always tough cricket, in any form of the game. I'm certain tomorrow will be no different. So for now, it's about focusing on a huge game - a final - against a very good team."

Australia have been here before and are veterans of global finals - although not in this format - whereas for England's it's their first since 2004 and then it's right back to 1992 to find the last time they lined up in the final two. On both occasions they came up short, against West Indies' tailenders at The Oval and Imran Khan's inspired Pakistan team at the MCG, to add to the runner's up medal's of the 1979 and 1987 World Cups. It's a thin list.

Compare that to Australia's glittering collection which includes a hat-trick of World Cups and the current Champions Trophy title. Victory in this final will make it a full house back at the Cricket Australia offices in Jolimont. When the pressure moments come the experience of being in those situations could prove vital. Australia have seven players with finals experience, while Collingwood is England's lone survivor from 2004.

"The guys who have taken part in big cricket matches - it doesn't necessarily have to be a final - have a huge advantage," Clarke said. "There were probably guys in our squad that were picked not only because they are great Twenty20 players but have experience as well - World Cup experience, big Test match experience. Having a few senior players around will help the youngsters control their emotions."

If any of the England players had watched the second semi-final it would have been a daunting experience to see how Australia managed to win. No other team in the world would have chased down those runs against Pakistan from such a position, but England refuse to be intimidated.

"We always knew what Australia were capable of," Collingwood said. "Whoever we played against in the final were going to be a strong side. Nothing surprised us yesterday. All we can concentrate on is our game. There's plenty of confidence in our side, the way we've played throughout this tournament has given us a lot of belief.

"We believe we've got the skills to beat any side on the day. Australia have always been a very strong side, and they still are. It bodes well for what should be a very, very good final. I don't really want to harp on too much about Australia, because we've always known what they can do. What I want to harp on about is England. We have surprised a few of ourselves in this tournament - and the guys are very, very positive."

Australia arrived in Barbados still buzzing from their incredible run chase in St Lucia. The emotions were so raw after Michael Hussey hit the winning runs that a 48-hour turnaround before the final could have caused problems about bringing the players back down again. However, rather than blank it out and focus purely on this match Clarke wants his squad to bottle the feeling.

"I don't think I want the guys to forget that," he said. "I think that memory will stick in my mind for the rest of my career. It's one of the most amazing games of cricket I've been involved in.

"I think we need to understand and accept that game's gone. But just keep in the back of your mind that what we showed the other day could happen out here as well. In our minds, we need to be very confident that we're never out of the game, we always have a chance."

England, themselves, have reached new heights over the last two weeks but are going to have find an even higher level to stop Australia from claiming cricket's Grand Slam.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Icyman on May 16, 2010, 18:07 GMT

    Micheal Clarke is the inappropriate choice to captain the side in T20s. Have the likes of Cameron White do it. If the Aussies win, Clarke will be hailed as a great man, which is not so. Its purely because of luck that the Aussies hav reached this position.

  • dummy4fb on May 16, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    Hope England will thrash the overconfident Michael's side.

  • DrDagli on May 16, 2010, 14:28 GMT

    It is strange that the captain of this great Australian Team - Michael Clerk is the worst performer of T20 with a hopeless strike rate of 70 odd. According to me,over past few years, the way he has been playingT20 and ODIs he, on merit, does not deserve to be in the Australian team.!! His captaincy is avg and still he is called "Mike Brarely of Australia".. may be because of his FLOP batting show, certainly not because of his leadership...That's the way Cricket Australia functions.A flop leading a team of 10 match winners!!!!!! If England wants to win the world cup they should let Michael Clerk play from one end till the end of 20 overs!!!!!

  • svshastry on May 16, 2010, 13:54 GMT

    The match ends in a tie... going to the super over...

    In any case, the match should be interesting... Each ball is a nailbiter....

  • ArishaG on May 16, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    Again, why does anyone have to mention the Ashes every time there is a AUS/ENG encounter. This is what always puts me off watching these two play against each other. Somehow, it always leads to the Ashes.

  • sanjeevmukherjee2006 on May 16, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Best of luck to both Australia and England for me for Australia Petersen, Morgan, swann are the threat for England all 11 players of Aus are the threat. Coming back to Australia, look at their bowling strength if players like bollinger and ryan harris, haurtiz are not playing it shows their bench strength even lee was out injured they have 5-6 good pacers to choose from, and batting also

  • daynighter on May 16, 2010, 11:38 GMT

    Michael Clarke, worst t20 batsman of all time! What's he got like a strike rate of about 12? With like 3 career sixes? With an average of about negative infinite? But who could really care, this tournament holds but minimal significance. He'll plunder his way through some big test runs during this Ashes summer I'm sure and the world will turn as it should. It's just that in this format he's looking like a right goose, coming in and hitting delicate singles n junk. Mr Cricket for PM!

  • petecee41 on May 16, 2010, 11:14 GMT

    I can see Pietersen back in the pavilion early tonight. The Aussies won't drop catches and allow him to score big totals like other teams have. Sayonara Pommy-san.

  • dummy4fb on May 16, 2010, 11:04 GMT

    Come on ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!! I KNOW you can demolish Australia like U did in the Ashes!! Repitition please!!!!

  • Gazzypops on May 16, 2010, 10:01 GMT

    The only thing I'd like to say is: neither Australia nor England has ever been in a World Cup Twenty20 final before. Saying one side or the other is unbeatable, therefore, rather ignores this fact. Wouldn't it be good if this went down to a one-over eliminator?!

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