Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

Cricket World Cup 2019: Weather to influence coin toss call in England-Australia semi-final

Graham Caygill offers his thoughts on the second semi-final match at Edgbaston on Thursday

England captain Eoin Morgan will be having a good, hard at the conditions before deciding he must do should he win the toss on Thursday. Andrew Boyers / Reuters
England captain Eoin Morgan will be having a good, hard at the conditions before deciding he must do should he win the toss on Thursday. Andrew Boyers / Reuters

Australia v England meet for the second time at the Cricket World Cup on Thursday when they go up against each at other Edgbaston.

But this time there is a place in Sunday's final at Lord's at stake.

Will Australia move a step closer to retaining their title and winning the competition for a fifth time in the past six competitions?

Or can England reach their first final since 1992 and stay on track to win the tournament for the first time?

Here are some talking points ahead of the action at Edgbaston.

Stadium workers clear water from the covers during last month's New Zealand-Pakistan World Cup match at Edgbaston. Could we see a repeat? Rui Vieira / AP Photo
Stadium workers clear water from the covers during last month's New Zealand-Pakistan World Cup match at Edgbaston. Could we see a repeat? Rui Vieira / AP Photo

Batting first not a simple option for Aaron Finch and Eoin Morgan

A lot has been made of England's preference for batting first and the fact all three of their losses in the group stages came in bungled run chases.

But the forecast for Birmingham on Thursday is for mixed weather with rain definitely expected to play a part.

Overcast conditions, with some moisture in the air, would be attractive to both bowling attacks.

Given what we know about both sides and their strengths, you would expect both Aaron Finch and Eoin Morgan to bat if they call correctly when the coin is tossed.

It will be a brave call to field. Morgan may well be particularly reluctant to do it after he made that choice in the group game at Lord's last month.

On that occasion he was let down by his attack, who bowled horribly short and Australia's batsmen were given too easy a time as they racked up 285-7 and won by 64 runs.

However, England’s tried and tested formula for success is not exclusive to them.

Both Australia's losses also came batting second and their only successful run chase came in their opening game against Afghanistan on June 1 in Bristol.

The two semi-finalists have excelled with a simple formula: back their batsmen to score enough runs for their bowlers to defend.

So it will be a major shock if they move away from that on Thursday, no matter how murky it is in the Birmingham sky.

England openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have been hugely successful at the top of the order for their team. AP Photo
England openers Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy have been hugely successful at the top of the order for their team. AP Photo

Finch/Warner v Roy/Bairstow

The teams have both been inspired by impressive opening pairs who have regularly defined their innings.

Finch and David Warner have been a constant for Australia in their nine matches and they have had three century stands with an average 73.5 for the first wicket.

Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow have opened five times due to Roy's hamstring injury against Sri Lanka that ruled him out of three games.

They are averaging 84.8, with hundred stands in their past three games together against Bangladesh (128), India (160) and New Zealand (123).

The strong starts both sides have had have often proved the difference.

England were under huge pressure going into both the India and New Zealand matches, but got fliers in both of them thanks to the runs of Roy and Barstow.

Taking an early wicket on Thursday, given the importance of the two partnerships, would give either side a huge lift.

The two pairs have been excellent together and the one that continues to excel the most could well be a crucial part of deciding who goes to Lord's on Sunday and who heads home.

Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc is the highest wicket-taker in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Anthony Devlin / AP Photo
Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc is the highest wicket-taker in the 2019 Cricket World Cup. Anthony Devlin / AP Photo

Mitchell Starc's threat

Starc had come to England with little form to demonstrate that he could be as much of a force as in the 2015 winning side when he claimed 22 wickets.

But the 29-year-old has stepped up in spectacular fashion and is comfortably the competition's top wicket-taker with 26 wickets.

Four of those came against England in their group encounter, with the yorker that bowled Ben Stokes being arguably the best delivery of the tournament so far.

He has been a familiar foe to England over the years but familiarity does not make him any easier to play.

If England are to prevail, they have to find a way to cope with his pace.

Australia opener Aaron Finch scored a brilliant, match-winning hundred against England at the 2015 World Cup in Melbourne. Quinn Rooney / Getty Images
Australia opener Aaron Finch scored a brilliant, match-winning hundred against England at the 2015 World Cup in Melbourne. Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Australia's historical advantage

You have to go back 27 years for the last time an England side, inspired on that occasion by Ian Botham in Sydney, prevailed over Australia in a World Cup match.

Since then, the Australians have had the edge in various fashions. Thrashed or beaten narrowly it is all the same to England's beleaguered support.

This year was supposed to be different. England have excelled in one-day international cricket in recent years and have beaten Australia a number of times in the format.

But when it mattered in the group stage clash at Lord's, it was back to form. England's bowlers wasted good conditions and fielders spilled catches, before the batting fell apart amid a number of nervous strokes.

England have bounced back since then and were impressive against India and New Zealand.

But there are sure to be tense moments at Edgbaston, and how England handle the pressure to see if they can finally get one over on their fiercest rivals will be a key aspect of proceedings.

Updated: July 10, 2019 12:02 PM

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