England have completed what appeared to be mission impossible to get another crack at Australia later this week.
The 14-run victory over New Zealand at the Gabba signified the most dramatic of turnarounds in fortune for Michael Vaughan’s men.
A week ago when they lost to the Kiwis in Perth, following two drubbings in Adelaide, they needed two wins from the final two and New Zealand to fall to Australia in between.
A 92-run success for England over the Australians in Sydney did not appear to be enough when the Kiwis dominated three quarters of their match against Ricky Ponting’s men at the MCG two days ago.
Had New Zealand won that match, England would have needed to win today with a bonus point to extend their tour.
"It goes to show a week in cricket as we said in Adelaide is a hell of a long time," said England captain Michael Vaughan. "You have to give full credit to the players and the staff for they way we responded the last week.
"Sydney was a huge day for us and the momentum we took from there straight here was pretty evident. We were patchy at times but that is even more of a positive sign because we have beaten a very good New Zealand team not playing our best cricket.
"There was a real atmosphere around the camp wanting to win this game. We wanted to get to the finals and wanted to play Australia again. It is a great experience for a lot of these lads leading into the World Cup."
Vaughan’s return following a five-match absence was marked by a first-ball duck and he also aggravated his left hamstring injury, which makes him a slight doubt for Friday’s first final.
"It was difficult at times but I will be doing work with Dean Conway over the next 48 hours and hopefully playing in the finals," said Vaughan. "It is great to be back out there and playing and making a few tricky decisions."
Having gone 14 matches without a player scoring a hundred, Paul Collingwood followed Ed Joyce’s exploits at the SCG.
And even when the Black Caps charged to 81 without loss after 13 overs, in pursuit of 271, England refused to panic.
"With the batting, one player has got a hundred and given us the chance to get a good total and in the field we have hunted in packs," said Vaughan. "We have to take all the things from the last two games in to the finals and produce that kind of performance at the MCG, we should put Australia under some pressure."
Another positive is that England turned in back-to-back wins without Kevin Pietersen, their best player, who is nursing a rib injury ahead of the World Cup.
"I think the guys who have played well in the past week deserve a crack at Australia," said Vaughan, playing down any suggestion he could be flown back over to Australia.
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who like Collingwood has been in a form slump, struck 106 in a losing cause, but crucially his final seven runs spanned 16 deliveries.
"It was a grind, I would’ve liked to have scored quicker but those wickets fell at crucial times and if I had got out there would have been two new batters at difficult times," he reflected. "It’s not often you get a hundred and come up short so I am pretty disappointed.
"We are not icing the cake, we should have won this game at a canter two or three down. We gave them opportunities and England were good enough to take them. Respect to them because at the end of the tour it could be easy for them to fold but they steeled up pretty well."
Andrew Flintoff dragged things back with some superb spells from the Stanley Street end.
"He came on at a time after we had a pretty good start and he just hit the back of a length and showed the way to do it," Fleming said. "The pitch juiced up a little bit and he got a little bit of kiss down the hill.
"That is the kind of quality player he is, you expect nothing less from him so we had to soak up his overs and hope there was enough at the other end. But those boys came up trumps."
Vaughan was also superb in managing his bowling changes and delaying the power plays and Fleming reflected: "I guess he has a tactical impact on the team in that they work better under his tactics."
At Brisbane. England beat New Zealand by 14 runs. England won toss.
E C Joyce c McCullum b Franklin…26
M P Vaughan b Bond…0
I R Bell c Styris b Bond…12
A J Strauss b Styris…55
P D Collingwood b Bond…106
A Flintoff c Franklin b Bond…17
J W M Dalrymple not out …29
P A Nixon b Gillespie…0
L E Plunkett not out …15
Extras (lb4 w3 nb3) …10
Total 7 wkts (50 overs)…270
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-28, 3-52, 4-155, 5-191, 6-250, 7-251.
Did not bat: S I Mahmood, M S Panesar.
Bowling: Franklin 8-1-45-1; Bond 10-2-46-4; Gillespie 10-0-52-1; Oram 7-0-36-0; Vettori 6-0-37-0; Styris 9-0-50-1.
L Vincent c Flintoff b Panesar…31
S P Fleming c Nixon b Flintoff…106
P G Fulton c Bell b Plunkett…12
R L Taylor run out …25
S B Styris c Panesar b Collingwood…16
J D P Oram c Nixon b Plunkett…5
B B McCullum b Plunkett…2
D L Vettori c Vaughan b Collingwood…10
J E C Franklin not out …22
S E Bond not out …8
Extras (b1 lb3 w15) …19
Total 8 wkts (50 overs)…256
Fall of wickets: 1-81, 2-107, 3-169, 4-203, 5-208, 6-212, 7-224, 8-232.
Did not bat: M R Gillespie.
Bowling: Plunkett 10-0-60-3; Mahmood 10-0-62-0; Flintoff 10-3-37-1; Collingwood 10-0-46-2; Panesar 8-1-38-1; Dalrymple 2-0-9-0.