Cricket World Cup 2019: Australia cruise to victory as England feel weight of expectation
It was not remotely close, as the five-time champions became the first side through to the semi-finals in the 2019 World Cup
England versus Australia at Lord’s. It is not quite accurate to say it does not get bigger than this. It does, but not by much.
If India against Pakistan was the real Clasico of this World Cup group phase, then this fixture was not far behind.
Judging by the clientele in the stands, this was the hottest ticket in town. Gareth Southgate, England’s football manager, was sat a couple of rows behind comedian Michael McIntyre. Damian Lewis, of Homeland fame, was within touching distance of both.
Even Ed Sheeran was there, sat in the posh seats, looking less than posh, no doubt anticipating an England win.
All of the stars aligned for Australia, though, as they rained on the host nation’s parade by winning by 64 runs.
It was not remotely close, as the five-time champions became the first side through to the semi-finals in the 2019 World Cup.
England have not beaten their oldest rivals in a World Cup match in 27 years. They still haven’t. And yet everyone had been duped in to believing they stood more than an even chance this time around.
They are the world’s No 1 side, started the competition as favourites to win it, and beat this particular opposition 5-0 in the UK 12 months earlier.
Do not doubt, though, that they are feeling the weight of expectation now. This was the first time they have lost two consecutive one-day internationals since January 2017, having lost to Sri Lanka in the previous match.
Now, they are looking over their shoulders, where the likes of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are lurking with intent, hoping they can eke a way through to the last four. It was not supposed to be like this.
How Australia will have revelled in delivering England’s third defeat of the campaign.
Their heroes with the bat were the usual suspects. Captain Aaron Finch made an even 100, and was joined in a priceless alliance for the first wicket worth 123 with David Warner, whose 53 was his fifth score in excess of 50 in seven innings in this tournament.
“There are teams who you just have a bit more confidence against when you go out to play,” Finch said, after notching a seventh ODI century in his career against England.
“I have enough low scores as well, so you have to take the good with the bad.”
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With the ball, Australia discovered a new star. Jason Behrendorff chose this stage to pick up his first five-wicket haul in international cricket.
His new-ball partner, Mitchell Starc took four, to move back to the top of the charts of leading wicket-takers in the tournament.
Starc ended England’s hopes when he delivered arguably the ball of the tournament so far, a yorker that crashed into Ben Stokes’ off-stump.
Having made 89 to carry the fight while wickets regularly fell at the other end, Stokes was crestfallen, dropping his bat on the floor in disbelief, then kicking it away in disappointment.
England now face the prospect of matches against the Nos 2 and 3 placed sides on the points table, New Zealand and India, as they try to force their way into the last four.
“Given the circumstances, it is not hugely disappointing, and our fate is in our own hands with the next two games we play,” Eoin Morgan, England’s captain, said.
“I think if we can control that, and produce performances, we will be in a healthy position come the latter stages.
“Everything we need to turn around is quite simple. We are not going to search for anything that is not there.”
Updated: June 25, 2019 09:40 PM