2019 Cricket World Cup – Australia v England: A cruel end

There’s something about Edgbaston.


Since that ’99 semi-final where we drew our way into the big dance, the ground played host to many an Aussie misery. Specifically, picture 2005. Flintoff consoling Lee on his haunches after Kasprowicz’s miniscule nick through to Geraint Jones. Also picture 2015. Broad’s horrific 8/15 that ripped Aussie hearts out of their body and cast it on display for all English high and sundry to laugh at. Therefore, this semi final match up against the Poms promised to provide more misery.


Finch did what was needed – winning the toss and batting first. Finch and Warner had blunted the Poms at Lord’s just a fortnight ago. A similar job had to be done.


This time, Joffra Archer wasn’t playing half-fit. His searing pace off such a nonchalant run up troubled Finch immediately, exposing his weakness for early in-swingers. A golden duck struck fear into Aussie homes from the seventh ball of the match. Smith came in. The man for the crisis, him and Warner could live out a fairytale by combining to put Australia into a World Cup final. Woakes had other ideas. In a Jimmy Anderson-like vain, he was hooping the ball dangerously. It was his day, and he soon had Warner edging a rearing out-swinger. When Handscomb’s troublesome technique once more resulted on him being bowled through the gaping gap between bat and pad, Australia were at a crossroads. The opportunity was present for another Broad-like destruction, or for a recovery similar to the famous 1996 semi final against the West Indies.


It went neither way. Carey, elevated to five, capped off a marvelous tournament with the bat as he dug in. Getting cut severely off a dangerous bouncer, he batted on with true Aussie grit. Smith kept accumulating up the other end, the steady hand required. Carey was more aggressive, beginning to flail off-drives to the boundary with tremendous pace. His adequacy against spin meant he scored well off Rashid. Eventually, he went for a delicate flick that should have been hit harder and he was out. Stoinis fell soon after, woefully inept against Rashid’s variations. Maxwell came out looking mature and measured. He dealt with the short ball menacingly and played some daring shots to the right balls. But of course, a well-disguised slower ball brought about his undoing and now Australia’s resistance was getting chipped away.


Only Starc aided Smith’s recovery efforts, but by then it was too late. Smith’s 85 gave Australia a fighting chance, but England had all the momentum going into the run chase. The ebullient Roy epitomised this, blasting away with reckless abandon. Soon, Bairstow and him had put the run chase to bed, cutting open the game, their bats acting as scythes slicing through Australia’s vaunted pace attack. Lyon was brought on and couldn’t rip through them. Just another cruel reminder that there’ll never be another Warne. Despite a quick couple of wickets, Root and Morgan were determined to finish the job themselves. They got them home with ease, booking themselves into a final that they were always destined to reach.


Australia’s World Cup holds both negatives and positives. Their second place standing and dominant group campaign belied expectations. They uncovered a solid one-day outfit that needs more gelling but was remarkably victorious. But when the time came for them to shine, they had peaked too early against the finalists and were left to pay against an English side hitting their straps at the right time. One can only wonder how that’ll bode for the Ashes.


Australia – 223 all out (49 overs)

Smith 85 (119 balls)                                                                          Woakes 3/ 20 (8 overs)

Carey 46 (70)                                                                                     Rashid 3/ 54 (10)

Starc 29 (36)                                                                                      Archer 2/ 32 (10)


England – 2/ 226 (32.1)

Roy 85 (65)                                                                                         Cummins 1/ 34 (7)

Root 49 not out (46)                                                                          Starc 1/ 70 (9)

Morgan 45 not out (39)                                                                    Stoinis 0/ 13 (2)


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