New Zealand coach Gary Stead believes sports fans across the rugby-mad country will be pulling an all-nighter in front of their television sets when his side face tournament hosts England in the Cricket World Cup final. Neither side have won the World Cup before, although Sunday’s showpiece match at Lord’s will be New Zealand’s second successive appearance in the final. In Britain, an agreement between rights-holders Sky and Channel 4 will see the match screened on free-to-air television.
The hope is that millions of new followers will tune in to watch an England side captained by Eoin Morgan go one better than their predecessors of 1979, 1987 and 1992 by winning the final. Stead believes it will be a similar story back home as his team seek to emulate New Zealand’s rugby union All Blacks by being crowned world champions.
That is despite a scheduled start time of 9:30 pm local time (0930 GMT), which could cause problems for bars and pubs in New Zealand who did not apply for a late liquor licence after failing to anticipate the Black Caps’ run to the final. “My understanding is it’s on free-to-air back home also, which is awesome,” Stead told reporters at Lord’s on Friday.
“Many people will stay up late and I know a lot of them will be spending some late hours. Monday might be a public holiday back home because most of New Zealand will be staying up watching the game.”
“We’ve had a lot of supportive messages and we’re really excited about what’s ahead,” added Stead.
New Zealand suffered a seven-wicket thrashing by Australia in the 2015 final, although the champions’ ‘sledging’ or verbal abuse of their opponents drew as much comment as their play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
England overpowered New Zealand by 119 runs in the teams’ final group match but, as has long been the case, there was no animosity. Stead said he expected a hard-fought match at Lord’s. “I don’t expect it to be friendly out there,” said Stead, whose side bounced back from their defeat by England with a shock 18-run win over India in the semi-final.
“Any time you go out and face bowlers bowling 140 kilometres-per-hour (87 miles-per-hour)-plus it is not that friendly,” he added.
“I expect both teams to play the game really hard in the middle and maybe have a beer afterwards. I think both teams play the game in the right way.
“The exciting thing is neither team have won a World Cup. Both have had some finals experience but you’re going to have a different winner than last time.”