A place in Sunday’s Lord’s showpiece awaits England but first the tournament hosts must dispose of old rivals Australia. And that will be no easy task.
England are on the verge of making the World Cup final on home soil and Eoin Morgan’s team will hope to maintain their recent momentum and live up to their pre-tournament favourites tag.
This could be one of the games of the tournament and looks mightily close to call.
Morgan’s men will hope they can edge it after returning to form when they needed it most in their final two group games. The Three Lions were building nicely before spectacularly coming off the rails with unexpected defeats to first Sri Lanka and then Thursday’s opponents the last time they met at Lord’s on June 25.
England were rightly criticised for those poor showings but they thankfully rediscovered their mojo for the important wins over India and New Zealand when it mattered most. What Morgan and co will hope is that they were, like the early setback against Pakistan, mere bumps in the road on the journey to World Cup glory.
If England do go on to lift the trophy for the first time, they will do it the only way they know how – by being aggressive, direct and taking the game to their opponents on the front foot. This team doesn’t sit back and play it tight, restricting their opponents by playing it tactically. It’s all about dominating from the off, which is why winning the toss and, in all likelihood batting first, could be crucial.
Morgan will demand his side go on the offensive, which is why backing an England century and at least one in the match generally at 2/3 should pay off.
In terms of who will get the runs for England, the market is suggesting the main men of Jonny Bairstow (11/4), Joe Root (3/1) and Jason Roy (3/1) are the ones to go for. But it’s captain Morgan, who has yet to truly find his form with the bat in the tournament, who we will plump for, stepping up to the mark when his side need him.
Australia will be determined not to fall to their Edgbaston ‘curse’ again, however. The men from Down Under have not beaten England in a ODI in Birmingham since 1993 and have not won at all in the Second City in any form of cricket since 2001.
But while those stats point to an England win, Australia know how to handle these pressured occasions and, in comparison to the hosts, are well used to being in this position. Incredibly, the Aussies have been in seven World Cup finals (winning five) since the tournament’s inception in 1975 – there has only been 11 tournaments – and are the reigning champions.
They also boast the in-form bowler of the competition in Mitchell Starc, who has taken the most wickets so far with 26 to his name, six more than the next best. He is ably aided by Jason Behrendorff and Pat Cummins while, with the bat, David Warner has defied the boo-boys to sit second on the highest-runscorer chart with 638.
It would be no surprise, therefore to see him adding to his total on Thursday, with the 12/5 on offer for Warner to be the top Australian batsman on the day appealing.
Considering what’s at stake and the fairly comparable form of the two countries, this semi really could go either way but England, with home support, should just edge it.
For all new customers, ComeOn are currently offering a £10 free bet – make sure you sign up!