Cricket World Cup 2019: England v Australia – strengths and weaknesses
Both teams have enormous depth in the batting, but one's fielding and the other's spin bowling remain drawbacks
England and Australia have never been strangers in cricket. They meet in a potential pivotal group match in the Cricket World Cup at Lord’s on Tuesday, having already played each other once this summer.
There are also five Ashes Tests inked in the diary to follow – plus a potential meeting in the knockout stage of the World Cup to come, too.
If the sides do not know each other’s strengths and weaknesses already, they certainly will do by the end of the summer.
1. Fast bowling: England are playing alpha cricket at the moment. Their batsmen compete among themselves to see who can hit the biggest sixes, while Mark Wood and Jofra Archer are bowling at velocities rarely seen before from England fast bowlers. The duo are pushing each other on to greater heights. Archer is the equal leading wicket-taker at the tournament, with 15, while Wood has 12 from five matches.
2. Six hitting: England have hit more sixes than any other team at the World Cup. The statistics might be skewed slightly by Eoin Morgan’s wonder-show in the mis-match against Afghanistan. But his world-record breaking 17 sixes in a match were at least typical of the side’s aptitude for power hitting.
1. Wicketkeeping: There is a strong case for Jos Buttler to be considered England’s greatest ever limited-overs cricketer already, aged just 28. His glovework, though, is anything but watertight. It feels like it could cost England at some stage during the competition.
2. Fielding: Accepted wisdom in the commentary box at the World Cup appears to be that England are just about the best fielding side in the competition. And yet only hapless Pakistan have put down more catches than the 12 England have grassed so far in the campaign. Perhaps the pundits were blinded by the gymnastic feats of Ben Stokes and Jason Roy in the opener against South Africa, but England need to tighten up.
1. David Warner: The boos that welcomed Warner – and Steve Smith – to this tournament have quieted somewhat. Perhaps no surprise: it must been tricky to maintain such hostility when someone so staunchly refuses to go away. Warner so obviously means business. No-one has faced more than the 512 deliveries Warner has faced up to so far in the competition.
2. Fast bowling: While Archer and Wood have provided England with a rare potency, neither is actually the fastest in the competition, as per a measurement of average speed. That is Mitchell Starc, who has been sending the ball down at 142kph on average. Like Archer and Mohammed Amir, it has brought the 2015 player of the tournament 15 wickets. And his new-ball partner Pat Cummins is no slouch, either.
1. Change bowling: It was once said of the New Zealand bowling attack of the times of Richard Hadlee was like “like the World XI at one end, and Ilford Second XI at the other”. The same might not exactly follow for this Australia side, but the drop off from Starc and Cummins to the change options of Nathan Coulter-Nile and Marcus Stoinis is still vast.
2. Spin bowling: At the moment, it feels as though Australia are selecting a leg-spinner in their XI just because that’s what everybody else does. Whether Adam Zampa provides the same value to Australia as Adil Rashid does for England, or Imran Tahir for South Africa, or Rashid Khan for Afghanistan, seems unlikely, though. His economy rate of 7.15 runs per over is the worst of any of the nine bowlers that Australia have used in the competition so far. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon, a regular tormentor of England, must be due a call sooner or later.
Updated: June 24, 2019 07:38 PM