Australia vs England: cricket’s age-old rivals will face off yet again but this time in a World Cup semi-final. Here we pick our composite team from the Cricket World Cup 2019 so far.
Both teams have experienced different routes to this semi-final. Australia, perhaps to many people’s surprise, have looked in fine form throughout the tournament, led by the formidable opening batting partnership, middle-order maestro Alex Carey and the lethal Mitchell Starc. The Aussies sealed qualification with two games to play, but a slip-up in their previous match against South Africa denied them top spot.
England have been far less comfortable. After a confident start, a surprise defeat to Sri Lanka and another loss against the Aussies at Lord’s put their semi-final hopes in serious doubt. Each game thereafter was a must-win England and the return of Jason Roy inspired them to crucial wins against India and New Zealand to seal a semi-final berth
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1. David Warner
Warner has returned to International cricket with a bang. He has racked up three centuries at the World Cup, including his effort in a losing dogfight against South Africa that has consigned Australia to meeting England in the semi-finals. He gets the nod over Jonny Bairstow here by virtue of being dismissed in single figures only once (Bairstow has two golden ducks), but his strike-rate of 89.48 is below par.
2. Aaron Finch (c)
Finch is over a hundred runs shy of his fellow opener’s tally (638 v 507) but it still put him in fourth spot overall in the group stage run-scorers’ chart. The Australia captain strikes at just over 100 and has two centuries in the English capital to his name, as well as three further fifties elsewhere, all in winning causes. He lost out to Morgan in World Cup six-hitting (22 v 18, first and second) in the group stage, but leads the side here.
3. Jason Roy
Just the five innings in the World Cup for Jason Roy, due to a hamstring injury, but still time for 341 group-stage runs at an average of 68.2 and a strike-rate of 114.04 – inside the top ten for all three metrics. He’s shunted down to No.3 here in the absence of telling contributions from the crocked, ball-guzzling Australian middle-order.
4. Joe Root
Blink and, suddenly, Joe Root has 500 runs at the World Cup. He recorded England’s first century of the tournament against Pakistan and added another in the mauling of West Indies from the top of the order. England’s back-up generator failed to pass fifty in any of the matches against fellow semi-final opposition, so he’ll want to prove a point at Edgbaston on Thursday.
5. Ben Stokes
A fantastic tournament for England’s middle-overs and middle-order man, chipping in seven wickets and 381 runs, frequently appearing as the side’s last hope in sticky scenarios. Stokes is the only member of the England top six not to register a century at the World Cup but has efforts of 89, 82*, 89 and 79 to his name at a strike-rate of 95.01.
6. Jos Buttler
Buttler is impossible to leave out. With the bat, there has been an exhilarating century against Pakistan that set the heart racing for what was to follow and then a deflating comedown stretching over the past four matches, where Buttler has reached double figures each time and then failed to push past 25. Still, his tournament strike-rate is fourth overall at a juicy 130.41 and there is more than enough batting here to defend the inclusion of Universe Jos.
7. Alex Carey (wk)
Carey has filled Australia’s middle-order void and been an imposing presence from No.7, with many calling for him to bat higher in the order against England. But he keeps that role here, retaining the gloves to boot. With 329 runs at a strike-rate of 113.84 and the most dismissals by any keeper in the World Cup group stage (19), he’s an absolute shoo-in here.
8. Liam Plunkett
Perhaps the most contentious position in the team with a number of high-quality options and no absolute standout amongst them. Yet this team is stuffed full of vim with the new ball and with no spinner screaming for selection, Plunkett gets the nod for his knack of picking up key scalps in the middle overs. Despite being jettisoned from the England side in the middle of the World Cup, Plunkett returned to claim 3-55 against India, removing the potent trio of Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya. His economy of 4.89 is also better than any Australian pacer.
9. Mitchell Starc
An attacking freak with the ball, Starc has ripped through batting line-ups at this World Cup, taking 26 wickets and moving sixth on the all-time list in only his second tournament – all but assured of a second stint as leading wicket-taker to boot. With a bowling average and strike-rate that could only be bettered by Mohammed Shami and Shaheen Afridi in the group stage, the left-arm quick has bounced back to his destructive best.
10. Jofra Archer
Jofra Archer has 17 wickets in his debut World Cup at an average of 22.76, just shading Mark Wood (23.06) and Liam Plunkett (23.25) in a three-way contest to lay claim to being England’s most influential speedster. The 24-year-old is the perfect storm of pace, bounce and gnarl, as five three-wicket hauls in his first six matches of the tournament attest to. No bowler fired down more maidens (eight) or dot balls (300) in the group stage.
11. Mark Wood
A fit and firing Mark Wood has been a huge asset to England throughout the World Cup, picking up 16 wickets across eight matches after sitting out the opener against South Africa. The only member of this England pace quartet with an economy the wrong side of five, Wood assuages his natural tendency to be expensive with a rich ability to take wickets. His 3-34 against New Zealand was an impressive performance.