Cricket: We'll hit England hard, says White Ferns coach

By Mark Geenty

White Ferns coach Gary Stead is demanding his side impose themselves on England with the aggressive style that got them within sight of their second World Cup women's cricket title.

New Zealand enter their fourth World Cup final here tomorrow as underdogs against the form side of recent years, who racked up 17 consecutive wins in completed one-day internationals until Thursday's defeat by Australia which had no bearing on the decider.

But former test opener Stead is confident his side have the ammunition, with power hitters throughout the order and a sharp pace bowling trio, to give England a fright at North Sydney Oval.

"We will be trying to hit the English team really hard. We're not going to take a backward step at all," Stead said.

"We suit an aggressive style of play and although that may be a bit more high risk, I think it's the style that we play best."

New Zealand timed their run nicely this week, with a comfortable five-wicket win over India then a 223-run demolition of Pakistan, inspired by Suzie Bates' magnificent 168 off 105 balls - the third-highest women's ODI innings in history.

"If we can get Suzie or someone else firing as she did [against Pakistan], that's the style of play I want to see," Stead said.

Admittedly, England's attack are streets ahead of Pakistan's, and they beat New Zealand by 31 runs in their Super Six match at Bankstown last Saturday. England have won six of their past seven completed encounters against the Ferns, with captain Charlotte Edwards the star of the most recent victory with 57 and four for 37.

Stead hopes the difference tomorrow will be the quicker pitch at North Sydney, where New Zealand have played their best cricket including the 13-run defeat of Australia which helped consign the five-time champions to today's playoff for third against India.

"It [Bankstown] was a bit low and slow and I don't think we played particularly well against England and still got within 30 [runs].

"It's going to bounce a bit more and that suits our style as well, a bit of extra pace with our bowlers and batters who can clear the fence."

The New Zealand top-three of Kate Pulford, captain Haidee Tiffen and Bates are all in prolific form, with double cricket and basketball international Bates a potential star of the final.

The 21-year-old hit 19 fours and six sixes against Pakistan, and it was no slog-fest with most of her boundaries from powerful drives down the ground and through cover.

Stead was happy his batters had all hit form after a scratchy start, while his seamers Sophie Devine, Pulford and Nicola Browne were hitting the pitch harder and creating more chances.

The sides have met just once in a World Cup final, with England prevailing by 66 runs at Lord's in 1993. New Zealand's other final appearances were a five-wicket loss to Australia in 1997 then their memorable four-run win over the same opponents in Christchurch three years later.

WORLD CUP FINAL

New Zealand v England, North Sydney Oval, noon tomorrow

* Head-to-head: Played 49, NZ won 29, England won 18, tied 1, no-result 1.
* At World Cups: Played 13, NZ won 6, England won 6, tied 1.
* Previous five matchups:-
* March 2009: England bt NZ by 31 runs, Sydney.
* March 2008: England bt NZ by 6 wickets, Christchurch.
* February 2008: England bt NZ by 6 wickets, Christchurch.
* Feb 2008: England bt NZ by 9 wickets, Christchurch.
* Feb 2008: NZ bt England by 123 runs, Christchurch.

New Zealand's World Cup finals:

* 1993: Lost to England by 66 runs, Lord's.
* 1997: Lost to Australia by 5 wickets, Kolkata.
* 2000: Beat Australia by 4 runs, Christchurch.

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