Carey the unassuming ace up Australia’s sleeve
Another decisive knock from Alex Carey against New Zealand showcased Australia's wicketkeeper's happy blend of match awareness and talent. That and what else we learned at Lord's …
As Justin Langer's side firm as one of two likely winner of the competition, five things we learned from the latest trans-Tasman drubbing …
A SAFE PAIR OF HANDS
One selection that was queried when the 15-man squad was announced was Alex Carey.
Was he the right man to wear the gloves at the World Cup, particularly with no back-up? Or would Australia miss Pete Handscomb?
Well, after eight games it is Carey who has been a shining light.
While the 28-year-old has flown under the radar, as the likes of Aaron Finch, Dave Warner and Mitchell Starc share the limelight, it his maturity that has helped Australia in various situations.
Against New Zealand he entered at 5/92 and immediately looked like he was on track for a big score.
Carey punished the bad balls and scored off the good balls, amassing 11 boundaries in a slick 71 (72).
It was a similar story against West Indies. Carey entered at 5/79 and, after the top order flopped, he scored just three runs off his first 26 balls to bat through the fiery quicks. Carey then accelerated and posted 45 (55) in a knock that allowed Steve Smith and Nathan Coulter-Nile to go hard at the end.
Yet against India and England Carey has been required to play as a finisher, scoring from ball one. He made unbeaten scores of 55 (35) and 39 (27) respectively.
Carey is the man for all moments.
STARC THE PERFECT WORLD CUP MACHINE
Three. That is now many wickets Mitchell Starc needs to break Glenn McGrath's World Cup record of 27 in a tournament (2007).
Starc has 24 from just eight games and, if Australia advances to the final, he will have another three games and potentially 30 overs to secure them.
Starc swung the game when a cutter grabbed Kane Williamson's edge and removed the danger man for 40 (51).
It was the first time Starc had dismissed Williamson with a white ball and he then picked up Tom Latham courtesy of Steve Smith's blinding catch and tailenders Ish Sodhi (lbw), Lockie Ferguson (bowled) and Mitchell Santner (caught in deep).
Starc has now bettered the 22 wickets he took as player of the tournament in 2015.
He is simply made for World Cups, with his simple but effective game plan of targeting the stumps doing wonders against every nation.
BOOS AND BOWLING FOR SMITH
Steve Smith raised his arms in the air and was mobbed by every teammate.
The batsman, booed to the crease, was surprisingly given the ball, and, after looping a delivery wide of off stump, Colin de Grandhomme threw the bat at it and watched the ball fly into Usman Khawaja's hands.
Yes, Smith had his first ODI wicket in five years, at the venue he made his Test debut at as a legspinner nine years ago.
Smith's 1/6 followed Finch's 1/13 against Pakistan two weeks ago.
A BIG WEEK AHEAD
That includes the small matter of a baby for David Warner - and a seven-day break for Australia.
Warner's wife, Candice, will give birth to their third daughter in a London hospital on Sunday and he will then join teammates in Manchester for Saturday's clash against the disappointing South Africans.
That match will likely determine whether Australia finishes first or second, and ultimately the location of their semi-final.
THE BEST XI IS NOW SET IN STONE
Australia stuck with its winning formula against New Zealand and, while match-ups and historical data determine the third and fourth bowling slots, they are settled.
Jason Behrendorff's position as third seamer is looking secure after bagging five wickets against England and both openers against New Zealand.
His new-ball swing is mighty impressive and spreads the quality with Pat Cummins bowling first-change, while Nathan Lyon's control builds beautiful pressure.
What does that mean for Kane Richardson, Nathan Coulter-Nile and reserve batsman Shaun Marsh? Trouble.
They are unlikely to be used again, although legspinner Adam Zampa could still win a reprieve as pitches start to spin more and more.