England hooker Jamie George said the way the country’s cricketers performed under pressure to win a dramatic World Cup final is a lesson their rugby union counterparts can learn from when they face South Africa in tomorrow’s showpiece match.
The England men’s cricket team won its first 50-over trophy by beating New Zealand on boundary countback at Lord’s in July but only after a thrilling last-ball finish to a ‘Super Over’ that required precision fielding to deny the Black Caps what would have been a winning run.
George is a friend of Jason Roy whose inch-perfect throw allowed wicket-keeper Jos Buttler to complete the decisive run out.
And he believes his side will also need to be at their best when the tension is at its highest if they are to beat the Springboks in Yokohama on and seal a second Rugby World Cup triumph for England following their 2003 success.
“Fine margins isn’t it?,” George told reporters at England’s hotel in Tokyo.
“A big thing that I have thought about is your ability to perform your skill under the highest pressure,” the British and Irish Lions international added.
“If you think back to that super over and the last run out — Jason Roy’s throw — he had to pick the ball up first, the ball is coming to him at speed, he’s done it a thousand times before but doing it under that pressure, knowing that he needs to get it there in that moment... Jos Buttler taking the stumps.
“Things like that. Doing your job under pressure. I read a bit with Jason Roy saying all he could think about was getting the ball into his hands. He was thinking about the process rather than thinking about the big picture.”
George has known another England cricketer, Sam Billings since their schooldays and has been in contact with him during the Rugby World Cup.
Billings has been named England limited overs cricket captain Eoin Morgan’s deputy for the five-match Twenty20 series in New Zealand — with England’s rugby players inflicting fresh World Cup heartache on the country by beating the All Blacks in the semi-finals of Japan 2019.
“The video came out of us watching their World Cup final and, chatting to him (Billings), they will probably be sat around watching ours as well,” added George.
“It’s quite a cool thought.”
Both the England men’s cricket and rugby union teams suffered embarrassing first-round exits during their respective 2015 World Cups. But they have each enjoyed revivals under Australian coaches, with Eddie Jones — the Wallabies’ boss when England beat them in the final 16 years ago — looking to follow Trevor Bayliss as a World Cup winner in 2019.
“I’ve spoken to Eoin Morgan a few times about the culture and also the mindset of the team going into their final,” said George.
“They had been through a bit more of a rollercoaster ride than we have in this tournament but there are certain similarities over the last two seasons or so.”
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