CWC 2019 Semi Final 2 talking points: Australia v England
CWC 2019 Semi Final 2 talking points: Australia v England. AUS vs ENG: 5 talking points from their World Cup 2019 Semi Final clash
The second Semi Final was highly anticipated. Why wouldn’t it be? Two arch-rivals going head-to-head for a spot in the World Cup Final. The hosts – a team desperate for World Cup success play their biggest rival who have five such triumphs. This was one to look forward to, particularly after a classic first Semi Final.
In the end, one team bottled it, and it wasn’t England. Four years after an embarrassing exit, Eoin Morgan’s transformation project is almost complete as England have reached the next Final. They were excellent, dominating from start to finish after getting rid of their chasing demons in this World Cup (for now).
For Australia, they produced their worst performance at the wrong time, losing their first ever World Cup Semi Final in the process.
Here are five talking points from England’s huge eight-wicket win.
1. England prove doubters wrong in this game
Think about it. England lose two games in a row chasing on pitches that had something for the bowlers. Jonny Bairstow voiced his discontent about the pitches. England then batted first on two good batting tracks, winning both their final games to qualify.
This episode was naturally going to bring about more doubters. Including myself. When England lost the toss, fans may have feared the worst.
However, England were brilliant with the ball. They looked to pitch the ball up a lot more than their disappointing showing against the same opposition at Lord’s. Man of the match Chris Woakes and his new ball partner Jofra Archer were relentless early, with Woakes finding a false shot in 36% of his deliveries in his opening spell. They were then backed up beautifully by Adil Rashid in a game-changing bowling performance to savour, and one more such effort will see them lift their first ever World Cup crown.
2. Steve Smith: big match player
There were murmurs that Steve Smith should not have come back in Australia’s squad. Nonsense. Smith loves the big matches in ODI cricket, and he again proved that fact with an excellent knock amid the carnage.
His last few innings in the group stage were a little underwhelming. However, you always felt this occasion would bring the best out of him. It proved the case, holding things together nicely with the impressive Alex Carey, who fought on after a nasty blow. However, Carey’s dismissal summed up Australia’s day, with the rest of the batsmen – particularly the openers – unable to step up when it really mattered.
Smith now has four consecutive fifties in World Cup knockout matches. It is something he can hold over his great rival, even though it wasn’t enough to deliver victory this time around.
3. Time to move on from Maxwell and Stoinis?
Much rested on Australia’s all-rounders heading into the to tournament, tasked with giving the Aussies crucial impetus in the middle order along with their useful overs with the ball. However, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis were the two biggest disappointments in Australia’s World Cup campaign.
Their performances in the Semi Final showed that the effort of the top order throughout CWC 2019 masked a number of issues. Stoinis started every innings more nervously than teenagers without their phones on a first date. He was in total shock that a wrong’un was bowled to him, completely missing the ball out of the hand, which is not good enough by an Australian number six.
Maxwell’s dismissal was just as poor, highlighting his lack of reliability right throughout the tournament. What made his dismissal worse is that Jofra Archer already bowled two balls over the shoulder in the over. He had to know what was coming. Yet, he still hung back on the back foot and pushed loosely at the ball, killing off all hope that he could be the one to fire Australia into the Final. If he is to remain in Australia’s team, they have no choice but to send him in as late as possible. If not, the likes of Matthew Wade and Ashton Turner are knocking on the door waiting for an opportunity.
4. Jason Roy’s return has taken England to another level
The only thing Roy has to focus more on is his behaviour towards umpires. Because, the true value of Jason Roy to this England team was on show when he wasn’t. He confirmed just that on his return, elevating England to greater heights in their past three matches.
Australia needed early wickets. Roy, with solid defence and beautiful cover drives, was having none of it. He has not only put pressure on the bowlers through his own batting, but also enabled Jonny Bairstow to play with freedom. Bairstow scored two centuries in a row to end the league stage, and Roy was super dominant against Australia (particularly against poor Steve Smith) to all-but-seal victory. Since Roy returned from a hamstring injury, England’s opening partnerships read: 123 v India, 160 v New Zealand and 124 v Australia.
In the two games where Roy was out injured? 1 and 0.
These three big partnerships were all against capable bowling attacks. If Roy can have another good day on Sunday, England might very well be lifting the Cup for the first ever time, ending years of anguish among England fans. Will this finally be their time?
5. Record-breaking Mitchell Starc
It wasn’t the day he or Australia were after, as their World Cup hopes were reduced to rubble. A sixth triumph wasn’t to be, but Starc had an incredible tournament, even if the finish left a sour taste.
His 27 wickets is now the most by any bowler in a single World Cup in history. Indeed, while the top order for Australia masked cracks, Starc carried the bowling attack, playing a vital role in victories such as the West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand.
His performances ensured Australia were winning when below their best, and he gave the nation reason to dream once again. He is a terrific bowler, and few can argue if he wins Man of the Tournament, producing magic spell after magic spell to propel Australia to the final four.
It wasn’t to be in the end, but let that take nothing away from a superb effort. Now, we are bound to witness a new World Champion, with New Zealand taking on England for the big prize.
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