By Niall Anderson at Lord's
There are few players in world cricket more aware of what the Black Caps are capable of than England captain Eoin Morgan.
Morgan was at the helm of the English ship when it sank in spectacular fashion at the 2015 World Cup, the eventual capsize stemming from an eight-wicket humiliation at the hands of New Zealand in Wellington. Having to rebuild his craft, Morgan looked to model his new-look unit after New Zealand, turning to good friend and fellow skipper Brendon McCullum for advice.
Four years on, and England have undergone a complete revolution, becoming the most dangerous and aggressive team in cricket, and reigning as the best team in the world over the last four years.
Interestingly, as England took inspiration from the approach of McCullum's side, New Zealand slightly backed away from it, with the 2019 iteration of the Black Caps having morphed into a new style of play under captain Kane Williamson.
Instead of following on with McCullum's uber-aggressive brand of cricket, this version of the Black Caps take a calm and calculated approach. At this Cup in particular, they've scrapped to post defendable totals, placed extreme value on their ability to correctly assess conditions, and played to their strengths – most notably a superb bowling attack that doesn't require 300 runs on the board to win every game.
It's a different strategy, but it doesn't make them any less dangerous, and Morgan knows it.
"New Zealand are an extremely tough side, with a lot of experience, a lot of skill. They improved, very similar to us, from the group stage to the semifinal performance. So we are striving to improve on our performance. No doubt they will."
Morgan caught up today at Lord's with McCullum, who had to go home during the tournament, but flew back to the United Kingdom to watch his former teammates play in the Cup final – as well as the team he inspired.
"I think he has had quite a bit to do with it," Morgan said of how McCullum helped instigate England's turnaround.
"He's taught me a lot about leadership and I think in 2015 the way that New Zealand played - they proved to everybody that you can perform at the highest level and get to the top by being yourselves and not trying to be somebody else, so that's quite cool."
The same philosophy could be attributed to New Zealand's 2019 Cup squad, a side moulded from the personality and leadership characteristics of Williamson. It's quite the contrast to McCullum's approach, but it's authentic – and that's what has impressed Morgan.
"The two boys have two different styles of captaincy. I think that's important for any leader. If they are trying to be somebody else it's never going to work. You have to be yourself otherwise the messages that you give to your team, or anything you try and do isn't authentic and people spot that straight away."
That style has led the Black Caps to their second consecutive final, and Morgan is expecting a massive challenge in what will be the biggest game of their lives.
"I think the progress or continued strides that they have made - they have just been on top of their game since, extremely experienced players who have continually challenged the best in the world and had success doing it.
"They offer threats throughout with the ball and they're just a stable side with the bat.
"I think it will be a really good game of cricket."