England must feel like Ivan Lendl when it comes to winning a coveted trophy. Lendl, who is now a US citizen, was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia. The former world No. 1 tennis player won almost every major tournament, 94 ATP Tour titles in fact, but the one tournament which he so desparately wanted to win, eluded him all his career. That was Wimbledon! Lendl was twice a runner-up, losing in straight sets to Boris Becker in the 1986 final and to Pat Cash in the 1987 final, again by straight sets.
The only ICC event that the England cricket team have won was the World T20 in the West Indies in 2010. They have ended as runners-up on four occassions, with three coming in the World Cup, in 1979, 1987 and 1992. Their other final defeat was in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004, which was also the last time they hosted the Champions Trophy.
India are undefeated in this tournament, dispatching South Africa, Pakistan, the West Indies and Sri Lanka with ease. England suffered only one defeat in the group stages, against a sub-continent team, Sri Lanka, when they were unable to defend 293 in 50 overs.
Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott have been relatively solid upfront, with cameo performances from Ravi Bopara lifting their innings total at the back-end of the innings. James Anderson and Stuart Broad have struck early numerous times with able back-up from Tim Bresnan, Bopara and Graeme Swann. James Tredwell came good against South Africa in the semi-final, with the off-spinner being underestimated by the Proteas.
India are the current ICC World Cup champions, and will be in good standing when it comes to playing in a tense final arena. Whether the English crowd can lift their team to victory in Sunday’s final remains to be seen, but the pressure of playing in their first 50-over final since that 2004 defeat might weigh too heavily on their shoulders.
As the South African team have been termed the perennial ‘semi-finalists’, so too might the England team be termed the perennial ‘finalists’ or ‘always the bridesmaid and never the bride’.