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ICC World Cup 2019 | England Produce the Perfect Game to Take One Step Closer to the Title

After nearly three decades of waiting for England fans, there was little for them to do on the day. The tournament hosts were relentless from the start, Jofra Archer struck with his first ball, just the seventh of the match – not since Kevin Pietersen has an England player looked such an international star so close to their debut.

Charles Reynolds |July 12, 2019, 7:32 AM IST
ICC World Cup 2019 | England Produce the Perfect Game to Take One Step Closer to the Title

Some things are worth waiting for. It has taken 9969 days, or just over 27 and a quarter years, but England are in a Cricket World Cup final once again.

Eight wickets, 17.5 overs, 107 balls – however you look at it, England’s margin of victory was so wide you could have sailed HMS Belfast through it – Australia eviscerated on a ground they have still yet to win at since 2001.

Had Lou Reed been a closet England cricket supporter, this was the sort of day he would have sung about, a World Cup semi-final against the bitterest of rivals, won with over a third of the innings to spare.

After nearly three decades of waiting for England fans, there was little for them to do on the day. The tournament hosts were relentless from the start, Jofra Archer struck with his first ball, just the seventh of the match – not since Kevin Pietersen has an England player looked such an international star so close to their debut.

Nine balls later England had both Australian openers back in the pavilion. Coming into this match Aaron Finch and David Warner had made a total of 1145 runs from 1209 balls in this World Cup – today between them they managed to face just two overs worth, a combined nine runs – all Warner’s – their contribution to the scorecard.

Chris Woakes

4/1, 10/2, 14/3. England dug Australia deeper and deeper into a hole early on and it was only when the mini recovery of Steve Smith and Alex Carey’s fourth wicket partnership went past 100 that they looked as if they might yet clamber out. Then came Adil Rashid to pour concrete into it with two wickets in an over, 117/3 became 118/5, Australia well and truly set on the path to defeat.

It was an over to vindicate the way England have played their cricket since the last disaster of a World Cup, Rashid’s first four had been costly, 29 runs against his name, but Eoin Morgan has faith in the man who has taken more wickets than any since that 2015 tournament – he backed him once more and Rashid delivered – almost all the life sucked out of Australia’s chances with their innings only just past the halfway stage.

This really was England’s perfect day, a boisterous Edgbaston treated to a match where almost everything seemed to go right for them, Jos Buttler’s threading of a pinpoint throw through the legs of Smith to run him out, making that point as abundantly clear as if it had been written in lettering 40ft high.

If England were clinical with the ball then with the bat they were ruthless, Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy in no mood to slow down their runaway train of an opening partnership. When these sides met earlier in the tournament, Mitchell Starc tore England apart, here on a grander stage Roy and Bairstow returned the favour, his first three overs went for 23; he finished with 1/70 from nine.

Given their last three games it seems almost unthinkable that England were on the verge of crashing embarrassingly out of this tournament 16 days ago, and with Roy’s return from injury the catalyst for a resurgence that has driven them into Sunday’s final, it was fitting that after Bairstow’s back to back hundreds, today was his turn to be the senior partner.

Jonny Bairstow

Trademark lofted drives down the ground, semi-pornographic, wristy sixes whipped over fine leg, Roy was painting with his full palette of colours, the image of a World Cup final growing clearer on the canvas by the minute.

A desperate gamble saw Finch introduce Smith introduced into the attack, but the Australian captain should have known this was a day where the house would always win. Roy’s response was to take 21 from the over, including three consecutive sixes, the last of which the first ever struck into the top tier of Edgbaston’s gargantuan Pavilion End.

Only a woeful decision from Kumar Dharmasena ended Roy’s fun, but it is unlikely that that, or the 30% deduction from his match fee he received for meeting it with vociferous and industrial disapproval, will have truly spoiled his day.

In a tournament where they have struggled to replicate the sort of fearsome performances that took them to number one in the rankings, this was the day that England finally delivered one and it has sent them waltzing into the final. Some things really are worth waiting for.

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2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3672 102
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1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
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1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10071 258
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