Cricket’s oldest rivalry is set to be renewed again when hosts England and Australia lock horns in a pivotal 2019 ICC World Cup clash at Lord’s on Tuesday.
There is the matter of an impending Ashes series to settle between the two arch-rivals in a couple of months. But there is also a lot at stake for both of them in their most immediate battle at the iconic cricket ground in London.
Defending champions Australia have one foot virtually in the semi-finals after an impressive campaign that has seen them win five of their six clashes.
Hosts England, on the other hand, have already suffered two losses in six games and come into the clash on the back of a shocking upset at the hands of Sri Lanka.
ENGLAND’S TITLE CREDENTIALS ON THE LINE
Eoin Morgan’s men were the overwhelming favourites for the World Cup before the start of the tournament, but their title credentials have taken a big beating lately.
While the hosts have still racked up the mammoth totals from time to time, their losses against Pakistan and Sri Lanka have exposed a few vulnerabilities which other top teams will be looking to exploit.
The latest loss to Sri Lanka has turned what looked like a straightforward path to the semi-final into a precarious one for Morgan and his men. England might need to win two of their three remaining games to ensure a spot in the semi-final but that certainly won’t be an easy prospect.
Their record against their final three opponents – Australia, New Zealand and India – is not the most flattering with zero World Cup wins to show against either of them since the 1992 edition.
They are still favourites to make the top four, but they will know that each of the next three fixtures is a potential banana skin. The fact that opener Jason Roy has missed the last two clashes due to a hamstring injury has not helped matters and the right-hander has been confirmed to miss the Australia fixture as well.
AUSSIES LOOK TO OVERTURN RECENT ENGLAND DOMINATION
England and India were been seen as the clear favourites before the start of the tournament, but Aaron Finch and his Men have gone on to show that Australia can never be discounted in a World Cup.
The five-time champions have exceeded expectations so far with a loss against India being the only aberration in a fine campaign. The Aussie could all but seal semi-final qualification with victory on Tuesday and derailing their arch-rival’s campaign will be added incentive for them at Lord’s.
They will also want to overturn their recent ODI domination at the hands of England that has seen them lose nine out of the last 10 fixtures between the two sides. Finch’s men were even whitewashed 5-0 in an ODI series in England last year and those wounds will still be fresh when they take the field on Tuesday.
A lot has changed for the Aussies since that series rout with the team winning 13 out of their 14 most recent ODI encounters and that should give them the confidence to tackle the hosts’ firepower at Lord’s.
England: James Vince, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc.
England captain Eoin Morgan has warned Australian pair David Warner and Steve Smith they will not be “accepted back into the cricket community straight away”.
England face Australia in their World Cup clash at Lord’s on Tuesday, with Morgan insisting he will not give supporters any instructions on how to treat the two batsmen, who are back in action having served bans for ball tampering.
Rejecting the idea of giving orders to the crowd, Morgan said: “I’m not expecting anything. I think fans and supporters up and down the country will have different reactions, as they will around the world. So we’ll see.
“Supporters pay a lot of money. And sport is beautiful in many ways, because it attracts people from far and wide.
“And you often see crowds offering support to both sets of players in the grounds.”
Morgan did, however, warn Warner and Smith they will not be welcomed back into cricket’s fraternity with open arms, despite returning to international action.
“You don’t know how sports fans will react,” said Morgan, who revealed England opener Jason Roy would miss the match through injury.
“Just because two guys have been punished, served their punishment and returned to play, it doesn’t mean they will be accepted back into the cricket community straight away. It will take time.”
Jonny Bairstow accused Australia of double standards over asking fans to lay off Warner and Smith, despite previously urging their own supporters to dish out some stick to Stuart Broad.
Morgan refused to be drawn on his team-mate’s views, but suggested Australia’s current backroom staff have a more measured approach than previous set-ups.
Asked for his view on on Bairstow’s comments, Morgan said: “I don’t have a view on it. I think every instance is different, every team is different.
“Year on year it’s a different set of circumstances.
“I believe that was a long time ago under a different regime. I don’t know.”
Morgan revealed Roy has received a positive outlook from his scan on a torn hamstring, but admitted he could not offer a specific timescale for the opener’s return.
Roy returned to the nets on Monday but he will not be fit to face Australia.
“Jason went for a scan this morning. It’s all positive news, he won’t be fit for tomorrow,” said Morgan.
“We’ll monitor his progress in the week. To put one game on it (for Roy’s return) I don’t think is sensible, let’s just see how it goes.”
Roy has been absent from his side’s last two matches and was heavily missed during the shock defeat to Sri Lanka on Friday.
Monday’s scan showed the 28-year-old was making good progress in his recovery, but head coach Trevor Bayliss has vowed not to include the Surrey batsman until he is fully fit, meaning another chance for James Vince.
Morgan added: “It’s Jason Roy, of course he’s a big loss. He’s an outstanding performer for us.
“But I’m confident we have the batting covered, James Vince is an extremely talented, gifted player. You can see that just watching him.
“We’ve every faith in him to go on and get a score at some stage.”
Defeats to Sri Lanka and Pakistan leave England needing perhaps two wins from their remaining three round-robin matches against Australia, India and New Zealand to reach the semi-finals.
But Morgan rejected the idea Tuesday’s clash at Lord’s is already a do-or-die situation for England.
“It’s not must-win yet,” said Morgan.
“We don’t need to win every game to get to the semi-final.”
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West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell has been ruled out of the remainder of the 2019 ICC World Cup and was withdrawn from the squad on Monday.
Russell had been struggling with knee issues for some time and the problem has only been aggravated after playing four matches in the World Cup. The all-rounder did not feature in West Indies’ most recent loss against New Zealand due to his knee issues and his tournament has now officially ended after he was withdrawn from the squad.
The ICC Event Technical Committee has approved Sunil Ambris as a replacement player for Russell and the batsman will join up with the West Indies squad in time for their clash against India on Thursday, June 27.
Russell had picked up five wickets in his four appearances for Windies in the World Cup although the all-rounder had failed to live up to expectations with the bat. The 31-year-old was able to muster just the 36 runs in three innings including a duck in the loss against Bangladesh.
26-year-old Ambris has played six ODIs previously for the West Indies where he has scored 316 runs with the help of one century and a fifty.
Windies’ hopes of qualifying for the semi-final of the World Cup are all but over following their agonising five-run loss to New Zealand on Saturday. That result has left Jason Holders with just three points to show for from six games and they currently occupy the eighth spot in the 10-team table.