The latest chapter of one of cricket’s greatest rivalries saw a washout at the T20 Cricket World Cup last week, but England and Australia continue to battle each other for a spot in the semi-finals of the competition Down Under.
The two sides could finish level on points by the end of the Super12 stage and the deciding factor on who progresses to the semi-finals could prove to be net run rate.
After a humiliating 89-run loss to New Zealand in their opening match, Australia have been trying to reduce their run rate knowing it could be the difference between the final four and an early exit.
New Zealand, England and Australia are likely to be the three main fighters in the battle for a top-two spot in Group One.
England face the Black Caps tomorrow morning knowing that a loss will effectively dump them out of the competition.
Seven, seven, seven
Australia play Afghanistan in their final game and could end the group stages on seven points. England are currently on three knowing two wins would put them on seven points – even if New Zealand lose against England they, too, could finish on seven points.
New Zealand currently enjoy a superior net run rate of +3.850 while Australia’s is -0.304 and England’s +0.239. It means that even if England win their two remaining matches they could be beaten by Australia’s run rate if they topple Afghanistan by a significant total.
There also remains the scenario where England’s coach in their 2019 one-day World Cup win at Lord’s – Chris Silverwood, now head coach at Sri Lanka – is the one who dumps England out at the Super12 stage.
One thing England have in their favour is matches; today’s game against New Zealand is crucial but there’s a further chance against the Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka.
England’s match against the subcontinent nation is the last pool match involving one of the major three in Group One. This therefore gives them the advantage of knowing precisely what they need to do to make the final four, if it is at all possible by that stage.
England have prided themselves on being a team of chasers; they prefer managing a target and turning up the heat if and when they need to do so. This could be their party trick come the final match against Sri Lanka, but that relies on a solid performance tomorrow morning against New Zealand.
The Black Caps combine impressive batting power with intelligent decision making, alongside a number of impressive bowlers who can make the difference.
They’re unbeaten thus far – with two wins and one no result – and are the best side in the competition. South Africa in Group Two have the same win rate but a worse net run rate.
England’s World Cup could be over by lunchtime, and that’ll be a huge step backwards in their new era of limited-overs cricket, but to lose out to the Australians? Well that cannot happen, can it?