Australia dismissed England with contempt at Lords in the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match – beating their old enemy by 64 runs and, in the process, securing their place in the final 4 – whilst the loss for the host nation consigned them to their third defeat and their own place in the Semi Finals now looking precarious at best.
England’s two – surprising – losses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka had meant the always huge game against Australia took on more significance and importance. They needed a response as, with games left against India and New Zealand, their place in the Semi Finals was under ever more threat. They would also want to gain some momentum and confidence in dispatching a team they would likely have to meet again if they believed that this years World Cup would end up in their own hands.
It wasn’t to be. In fact, it was the polar opposite of what was required. Australia dominated from the start. England won the toss and, as usual, elected to field first. But this backfired in the worst way, as the turbo charged Aussie openers, Aaron Finch (above) and David Warner, set about the England bowling attack with impunity. They put on 123 at around 6 an over before Warner finally fell for 53. But there was little respite from Finch who, despite a greenish looking pitch and some swing, looked right at home at Lords and up for the battle, crashing 11 fours and 2 sixes as he reached his century. He fell for exactly 100 but had set the platform for what looked a huge total – 185/3 with 15 overs to go as he walked back to the pavilion.
But England fought back, and the final Aussie score of 285/7 was something of a triumph considering the start – and an eminently reachable target for the strong and deep batting English lineup. It was thought. It was hoped.
It was wrong.
James Vince, covering for the injured Jason Roy, once again failed with the bat. He lasted all of two balls before the mightily impressive Jason Behrendorff smashed his stumps and sent the bewildered batsmen back through the Long Room without troubling the scorers. Joe Root, so often the foundation for the English innings for once also failed – playing across a ball from the magnificent Mitchell Starc (above), who trapped him LBW for 9. Captain Eoin Morgan arrived at the crease, and was sent back 7 balls later – Starc again getting him caught on the boundary by Pat Cummins, making a tough catch look simple, but the choice of shot highly questionable when discipline was needed.
So 26/3 became 53/4 when Jonny Bairstow also decided attack was the way forward…again being caught on the boundary by Cummins, though this time off the bowling of Behrendorff, claiming the second of his eventiual five wickets, and proving more than able support to the Starc/Cummins combo that looks as impressive a bowling pair as anything seen in this years tournament.
Ben Stokes, not for the first time, provided England’s best chance of resistance and victory – but he fell to possibly the ball of the tournament so far – a virtually unplayable delivery from Starc, who sent down a perfect, swinging, Yorker to send Stokes’ leg stump cartwheeling – Stokes totally mesmerised by the delivery which will be on every highlight reel to come. His dismissal signalled pretty much the white flag being raised for England, who lasted 44.4 overs before last man Rashid was caught behind off Starc, with their total reading just 221.
Aaron Finch was awarded the man of the match for his 100 run innings – though Behrendorff (5/44) and Starc (4/43) could not have been far behind.
Australia are now assured of a top 4 spot – though they will want to continue this exemplary form and try to finish top of the group, where they will play whichever team finishes at #4 – so, arguably, the easier game, with #2 playing #3. They look every inch a more than capable outfit and are now many peoples favourite to hoist the trophy aloft.
For England, a Semi Final place is still in their own hands – but with India and New Zealand to come, both likely to be Semi Finalists also and wanting a high place finish themselves – notwithstanding the quality they possess – they will now be looking more downward than upward, with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and perhaps more notably Pakistan, looking with delicious intent at that fourth place. England have shown in this World Cup that they struggle under pressure. One win from those last two games could just be enough for them to make what was thought a given a fortnight ago. But the pressure will be immense….England need to show they can handle it and still perform as the world knows they can…or they could yet find themselves watching the Semi Finals at home – something not worth thinking about from an English perspective.
ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA – MATCH SUMMARY
- Australia Innings : 285/7 (50 overs) – (Finch 100, Warner 53, Smith 38, Carey 38 no)
- England Bowling : Woakes 2/46, Stokes 1/29, Ali 1/42
- England Innings : 221 all out (44.4 overs) – (Stokes 89, Bairstow 27, Woakes 26)
- Australia Bowling : Behrendorff 5/44, Starc 4/43, Stoinis 1/29)
- Australia won by 64 runs
- MOM : Aaron Finch
- Venue : Lords – Tuesday June 25th.