Aaron Finch scored another ODI ton against England
Aaron Finch scored another ODI ton against England

England Cup horror as Aussies reach final four

England is cursed and Australia boasts a force field - welcome to the World Cup histories of cricket's oldest rivals.

Overnight captain Aaron Finch's men qualified for their eighth semi-final, where Australia boasts a 7-0 record.

England has not made a semi since 1992, and needs to beat India on Sunday to stay on track this year.

 

They promised it would be different this year.

They were hosting a World Cup that they had spent four years building towards.

Impressively, mind you, with batting records tumbling as captain Eoin Morgan's men climbed to the top of the world rankings.

But ODI wins between World Cups are largely meaningless. Does anyone care that 12 months ago England walloped Australia 5-0 now?

The only world ranking of No.1 that mattered at Lord's was Ash Barty's, with the Aussie tennis queen making a late dash to sit in the stands before her Wimbledon mission begins next week.

This was so much more than a 64-run group-stage thrashing for Australia. It was an emphatic tactical tick for coach Justin Langer and his polarizing gameplan.

Australia's captain Aaron Finch has been in stellar form at the top of the order. Picture: AFP
Australia's captain Aaron Finch has been in stellar form at the top of the order. Picture: AFP

 

Australia's 'build-before-you-bash' game style is nothing like England's 'go-for-broke' batting approach. For 12 months the whole world gushed at England's fearless mindset, which peaked when it posted 481 against Australia at Trent Bridge last year.

If Jonny Bairstow or Joe Root didn't get you then Morgan would, they said. Or if Morgan didn't get you then Jos Buttler - recently compared to both AB de Villiers and MS Dhoni - would, and in the most painful of ways.

But none of them did.

Not even Moeen Ali or Chris Woakes or Adil Rashid, the ridiculous 'tailenders' that share 40 first-class centuries.

Allrounder Ben Stokes' gallant 89 (115) included two sixes in three balls against Glenn Maxwell, the latter swiped on one knee, as he batted on one leg due to a sore calf that required plenty of attention.

But he had little support, and it was Mitchell Starc's simple but sensible game plan that brought Stokes unstuck.

No bowler on record attacks the stumps more than Starc, with half of his deliveries pitching within 6m.

So when Starc's offstump yorker smashed into the base, the left-arm superstar had his third wicket and Australia had victory in the bag.

Pat Cummins took a fine catch in the deep to remove England captain Eoin Morgan.
Pat Cummins took a fine catch in the deep to remove England captain Eoin Morgan.

Last year Australia tried and failed (miserably) to copy England's plan.

"It's not a sustainable way to play our one-day cricket," Finch said. "You can go down the route of picking a T20-based side and hope for the best for 50 overs, but in a World Cup I'm not sure that was going to be the right way to go about it.

"I think we've got the balance well and truly right."

Australia was sent in under grey skies with the ball talking more than a morning radio host.  But Finch and David Warner batted through and built a platform.

They were 0/120, knowing it wasn't at a record pace but it didn't need to be.

When Buttler picked out Usman Khawaja in the deep, England was 5/124, albeit that was a mild recovery from 4/43.

England fans pressed their heads into their hands, and an odd hush fell over the famous venue. In fact, it was so eerily quiet the Aussies' celebration was clearly audible.

It was another dumb wicket.

James Vince (duck) and Root (eight runs) copped ripping, swinging deliveries from Jason Behrendorff and Starc respectively.

Aaron Finch's century at the top of the order laid the platform for Australia.
Aaron Finch's century at the top of the order laid the platform for Australia.

Both targeted the stumps, sticking to Australia's clear bowling plan. But Buttler and Bairstow worked their way into the 20s and then holed out.

Captain Morgan top-edged Starc to Pat Cummins, who was on the rope. England's top-order is like a high school bully - boundless aggression yet limited IQ.

Behrendorff had never previously taken more than three wickets in an ODI. But, against England at Lord's, he cleaned up the tail to finish with five.

The left-arm swing bowler was given the new ball, with Pat Cummins bumped to first change, and he made it sing.

Since the last World Cup, Lord's has been England's home ground in name only, losing 40 per cent of ODIs there.

Yet since 1985 the Aussies have celebrated 12 victories at Lord's and lost just twice. They even enjoy Test matches there, losing only two Ashes matches at the home of cricket since 1934.

Even in County Cricket it brings Aussies joy - just look at Glenn Maxwell's maiden five-wicket haul there this summer.

Given that's where the July 14 final will be played, there is growing optimism it will be Finch leading the celebrations on the balcony.

Yet just six months ago it was Finch in the gun and Australia a 50-over laughing stock.

But World Cups bring out the best in Australia. And, on evidence, the worst in England.


News Corp Australia


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