England captain Eoin Morgan has urged his side to embrace their World Cup dreams as they prepare for Thursday’s blockbuster semi-final against old rivals Australia.
Morgan can lead England to their first World Cup final since 1992 if they beat the holders at Edgbaston.
Advancing to Sunday’s title match at Lord’s would be the culmination of four years’ hard work for Morgan and his squad after their dismal performance at the 2015 edition.
On the eve of the crunch clash, Morgan issued a passionate plea for his players to take pride in their achievements so far and to relish their moment in the spotlight rather than be weighed down by pressure.
“Sometimes I’m guilty of it, you can lose sight of the position you’re in and the fact you’re living your dream,” Morgan told reporters on Wednesday.
“I think it’s possible to play with a smile on your face tomorrow.”
Asked if the World Cup hosts were feeling excited, nervous or simply focused on the task at hand, Morgan added: “All of those things. But I think excitement probably should be the dominant one.
“Everyone is excited to play this semi-final. The fact that through the group stages getting to this stage looked unlikely, or was called into question, makes it even more exciting for us.”
Morgan’s side have established a proud recent record against Australia, winning 10 of the last 11 one-day internationals between the old rivals prior to this tournament.
That counted for nothing in the group stages, when Australia claimed a 64-run win at Lord’s that left England’s hopes of top-four finish in doubt.
Morgan admits England were not themselves in that match, knocked off course by a tame defeat to Sri Lanka and the absence of injured opener Jason Roy.
Roy is back from his torn hamstring and England looked far more formidable in the wins over India and New Zealand that took them to the semi-finals.
“We’re probably more confident than we were three games ago, we’re a different team,” Morgan said.
“The loss against Sri Lanka hurt us. I don’t think we were playing anywhere near our best cricket, there was a hangover from the Sri Lanka game. It feels like we’re back to the team we are.”