England snuffed out Australia’s title defence and stormed into the Cricket World Cup final with a comprehensive 8 wicket victory over the five-times champions in the second semi-final on Thursday.
England are one win away from lifting their first Cricket World Cup after booking their spot in Sunday’s final against New Zealand at Lord’s.
It’s the first time they’ve reached the climax of the 50-over showpiece since they defeat to Pakistan in 1992 while they lost their two other finals in this competition to Australia in 1987 and West Indies in 1979.
Their 13th triumph over their old rivals in 16 meetings dating back to September 2015 was their most important and also ended the Aussies’ 100% record in World Cup semi-finals, with this being their eighth outing at this stage.
The defending champions, bidding for their sixth title, had the better of things when the two sides met in the group stage at Lord’s a few weeks ago but they were readily overpowered when it really mattered at Edgbaston, their batting proving ill-equipped to deal with England’s pace attack while their own bowling was ineffective as Jason Roy blasted a brutal 85 in a comfortable chase of 224, which they completed with 107 balls to spare.
Australian captain Aaron Finch would have hoped for a much better day when winning the toss and opting to bat first on a good-looking pitching but his smile soon faded away, Jofra Archer pinning him LBW with a sharp inswinger first ball before David Warner was soon following his opening partner back to the pavilion after he was undone by a sharp lifter from Chris Woakes that he could only fend to first slip.
When Peter Hasdscomb’s painful return to international cricket ended with him losing his stumps to another superb Woakes delivery, Australia were on the ropes at 14-3 but Steve Smith produced a typically wholehearted response and found a fine ally in wicket-keeper Alex Carey, himself promoted to number five in the order following his impressive maiden World Cup.
The pair fought hard and thanks to some crisp striking from Carey and Smith’s clever manipulation of the field, they moved the score to 117-3 before the former perished in the deep off the bowling off Adil Rashid for an excellent 46.
Carey’s efforts were all the more commendable after he had received a nasty blow from a searing Archer bouncer when only moments into his stay at the crease, the ball having enough force to dislodge the Australian’s helmet and draw blood from his chin as he was surrounded by concerned England players.
After a short delay as he received medical attention, Carey played with all the class and maturity that will surely see him elevated to Test level before too long but his dismissal all but ended Australia’s hopes of posting a sizeable total, Marcus Stoinis failing only four balls later after he played back to a Rashid googly that left pinned LBW for a duck.
Glenn Maxwell’s latest cameo ended on 20 when England skipper Eoin Morgan brought Archer (2-32) back into the attack and despite finding the boundary with strong pull shot in front of square, he never looked comfortable against the pace the Sussex man was generating and he duly popped up a simple catch to cover a few moments later.
Rashid (3-54) finished his excellent day’s work when Pat Cummins edged to slip before Jos Buttler’s pinpoint throw from left Smith inches short at the non-strikers end to curtail his fine rearguard of 85 and put Australia on the brink.
Woakes (3-20) and Mark Wood (1-45) then returned to close out the innings, the former picking up his third wicket when ending Mitchell Starc’s (29) stubborn resistance before the Durham man yorked Jason Behrendorff, a first pump signalling the end of the innings and a job well done.
In reply, Roy and Jonny Bairstow were initially watchful, mindful not to repeat the mistakes of Lord’s, but they soon found their groove with the former in particularly devastating mood.
Bairstow was happy to play second fiddle to Roy and was first to be dismissed having contributed 34 in an opening partnership of 124, an otherwise poor Starc finally getting one on the money and wrapping his former Yorkshire teammate on the pads.
A wasted review from Bairstow meant Roy was robbed of a deserved century not long after, the Surrey opener adjudged to have feathered a catch behind when taking on a Cummins short ball, but the damage was already done, Joe Root (49*) and Morgan (45*) putting the finishing touches to a most comprehensive display with a unbroken partnership of 79.
Awaiting England at Lord’s on Sunday will be New Zealand after they overcame India in dramatic fashion at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Australia – 223 in 49 overs (Steven Smith 85, Alex Carey 46; Chris Woakes 3-20, Adil Rashid 3/54)
England – 226/2 in 32.1 overs (Jason Roy 85, Joe Root 49*; Pat Cummins 1/34, Mitchell Starc 1/70)