Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Owen and Eoin Leave Us Dreaming of the Double; Morgan Started Campaign with Win over South Africa and Farrell Can Seal a Stunning 2019 by Beating Boks Tomorrow

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Owen and Eoin Leave Us Dreaming of the Double; Morgan Started Campaign with Win over South Africa and Farrell Can Seal a Stunning 2019 by Beating Boks Tomorrow

Article excerpt

Byline: Will Macpherson in Tokyo

ENGLAND'S 2019 World Cup odyssey ends just as it started against South Africa. I have been fortunate enough to be at all 17 England cricket and rugby matches starting with that 104-run victory at The Oval and a few others besides, in the intervening period for Standard Sport.

It has been some year for England's cricketers and rugby players, two fine teams with many similarities. Both arrived at their respective World Cups carrying the baggage of a dismal campaign four years ago. Both were coached by 50-something Australians who got damned close to the top level but never quite made it. Both were captained by single-minded men whose first name is pronounced Oh-in. And both knocked the holders out in sensational fashion in the semi-finals. Can the rugby players match the cricketers? It has been an unforgettable ride. Both tournaments managed to stretch into a third month, and luckily our teams have gone the distance.

The cricketers arrived as hot favourites, with home advantage to boot. They started brightly, then stuttered hard, losing the unlosable against Sri Lanka, and convincing us that this was the most English of English World Cup flops. Dominate and, indeed, reinvent the game over four years, then get beaten in a totally different style come tournament time? England had never won the World Cup for a reason and, when they did, extra time had to be involved. To '66 and '03, add somehow - '19.

The rugby boys, having thrown that home advantage away four years ago, were heading to a county in which not one of them had played a Test before. They preceded it with a mixed Six Nations but they had a coach who knew the lie of the land and, as a team, had heaps of potential. Getting to the final seemed possible but not probable. England fans had at least tasted victory before in this particular code.

The expectation was for a cricketing cruise how naive! but the rugby team have given us the easier ride. The only real cause for alarm was Typhoon Hagibis, which saw the final pool game against France cancelled. …

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