LONDON – England really are proving to be the most hospitable of hosts.
Having already surprisingly lost to Sri Lanka last week to open up this World Cup, Eoin Morgan’s team swung the door even wider with a crushing 64-run defeat to arch-rivals Australia at Lord’s on Tuesday.
England remain in fourth place – the last semi-final position – with eight points from seven matches, but now have Bangladesh (7 points), Sri Lanka (6), Pakistan (5) and the even West Indies (3) all breathing down their necks.
To compound matters, England’s remaining matches are against India and New Zealand, who are both above them on the table.
In contrast, the Aussies are marching on with that same swagger that came naturally before all the #Sandpapergate hoopla.
They were, of course, reminded of their ugly past on Tuesday when even the loyal patrons of Lord’s greeted former captain Steve Smith with a chorus of boos as he strode out of the Members’ Pavilion.
It seems, though, that all the emotional drama of the past year has actually brought this Australian team closer together.
Coupled with the vast cricket intelligence sitting up on the balcony in the from of coach Justin Langer and his assistant Ricky Ponting, it has formed a formidable unit that have become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.
They currently possess all the ammunition to return for the finale here at Lord’s on July 14, with senior players and rookies firing with equal ferocity.
On Tuesday, the batting department was led by captain Aaron Finch, who struck a superb century, while fellow opener David Warner contributed another 53 off 61 balls as they reached 285/7 in their 50 overs.
"They make it look so easy!"— ICC (@ICC) June 25, 2019
Maxwell and #AaronFinch combine for a gorgeous grab on the boundary to send Woakes on his way and the Aussies on their way to the semi-finals.#CmonAussie | #CWC19 pic.twitter.com/vZdb87DeSi
Australia’s dominance in the tournament thus far is perfectly reflected by Warner sitting atop the leading run-scorers list with 500 runs, and Finch just four runs adrift in second place.
It should be no surprise then that left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc tops the bowling list with 19 scalps after his vicious in-swinging yorkers earned him another productive haul of 4/43 as England were dismissed for 221.
Starc, though, was ably supported by his new-ball partner Jason Behrendorff, who finished with a maiden five-for as nine of England’s wickets fell to the pair of southpaws.