Eoin Morgan wants his England side to embrace the fact they are "living the dream" of a World Cup semi-final against Australia.
Morgan’s team face Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday – live on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup from 9.30am – with the opportunity to reach a Lord’s final on Sunday.
Asked if his side were feeling excited, nervous or simply focused on the task at hand, Morgan said: All of those things. But I think excitement probably should be the dominant one.
Everyone is excited to play this semi-final. The fact that through the group stages getting to this stage looked unlikely, or was called into question, makes it even more exciting for us.
Sometimes I’m guilty of it, you can lose sight of the position you’re in and the fact you’re living your dream I think it’s possible to play with a smile on your face tomorrow.
England lost three of their nine group-stage games, with back-to-back defeats to Sri Lanka and their semi-final opponents Australia casting their qualification for the knockout stage in some doubt.
But England responded with impressive wins over India and New Zealand, and Morgan says it’s a different team now compared to the one which lost by 64 runs to Australia at Lord’s.
We’re more confident than we were three games ago, added Morgan. We’re probably a different team that played then.
The loss against Sri Lanka hurt us, and there was then an overhang into the Lord’s game.
When we came here [to Edgbaston] we managed to produce something similar to the cricket we’ve been playing over the last four years.
We then went on to Durham and put in an even better performance, improved again, and tomorrow we’re going to look to do the same again.
There is a reason we have a lot of success here. The wicket tends to suit us, but also the support as well.
For those crucial wins over India and New Zealand, England opted for the extra seamer in Liam Plunkett over the additional spin option of Moeen Ali, though Morgan could not guarantee it would be an unchanged team for the semi-final.
It depends on the groundsman’s final preparation, he said. I haven’t been able to look at the wicket since yesterday.
If he takes more grass off and we feel it’s going to turn, we’ll lean towards another spinner.
As for Australia, skipper Aaron Finch played down Glenn Maxwell’s absence from training ahead of Thursday’s game, saying it was a purely optional training session.
If Maxwell was to miss out, Matthew Wade – added to the squad for the injured Usman Khawaja – could be thrown straight into the XI, while coach Justin Langer has already confirmed Peter Handscomb will start the match at Edgbaston.
Morgan says his side are prepared for whichever combination Australia send out onto the field for the semi-final.
We’re presuming that he [Maxwell] is playing, but we’re preparing for all 15 and whatever team they come at us with, he said. Hopefully we have the best plans and the best team to counter it.
Watch England take on Australia in the second semi-final from 9.30am on Thursday on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup.