England crashed to their second straight defeat at the World Cup as Australia beat Trevor Bayliss’ men by 64 runs at Lord’s. Here are our talking points from the game.
England’s semi-final spot in serious jeopardy
Earlier in the tournament, England appeared to be cantering towards a semi-final spot, but the twin losses to Australia and Sri Lanka have put the cat among the pigeons. They are on 8 points from 7 games, and have India and New Zealand to play in their final two clashes. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could all potentially leapfrog the hosts.
England will be watching tomorrow’s Pakistan-New Zealand game with great interest. A Black Caps win will settle some nerves, but a Pakistan victory will make England’s clash against India a must-win, not an ideal scenario given the form Virat Kohli’s men are currently in.
Jason Roy injury hurting England
England’s tournament has taken a turn for the worse since Jason Roy’s injury. He didn’t feature in the losses against Sri Lanka and Australia. Alex Hales and Roy were key figures for the English in their ODI resurgence, but with one banned and the other injured, their opening pair looks vulnerable. James Vince rarely seems to be able to cross 30, and that pressure appears to be transferring to the middle order.
Another England loss while chasing
Eoin Morgan won the toss and opted to field first. And as it’s so turned out, all three of England’s losses in this tournament- Pakistan, Sri Lanka and now Australia, have come while chasing. Scoreboard pressure is a huge factor in a tournament like the World Cup, and England may choose to take first guard if they win the toss against both India and New Zealand.
How do Australia get the best out of both Khawaja and Smith?
Australia have some minor issues of their own. Aaron Finch and David Warner again gave them a solid platform, but like in many of their other games at the tournament, the middle-order collapsed, and it was only thanks to some late hitting from Alex Carey that they reached 285- they were comfortably looking at 300 plus when Warner and Finch were batting.
Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith are definitely among Australia’s five best batsmen, but there’s a unique problem. Khawaja performs better as an opener, but bats at 3 because of the Finch-Warner combo. Smith plays his best at 3, but is currently at 4.
Australia seal semi-final spot
With their sixth win of the tournament, Australia have become the first team to seal their spot in the semis. They appear to be hitting their straps at the right time, and few will bet against them defending their title come July 14.
Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins have been fabulous- the former took Ben Stokes out with one of the balls of the tournament today, and the introduction of Jason Behrendorff into the XI has lent better balance to their bowling. There are some chinks in their armoury, but as a team, they’re greater than the sum of their parts, which explains the fantastic tournament they’re having.