England's dream start could be tested by improving Australia

England’s dream start could be tested by improving Australia

Big Picture

In a few weeks the focus will be on the drawn-out battle of an Ashes series (although, in truth, a lot has already been said) but this meeting between England and Australia is a short, sharp encounter. A win for either of the great rivals would make it three from three and put one foot in a semi-final.

This should be England’s toughest test of the competition after a walkover against West Indies and barely needing to get out of second gear against Bangladesh. Likewise for Australia, it will likely give a much better indication of exactly where their T20 game sits. The signs against Sri Lanka were promising, both in how they hauled in a brisk start and then commanded the run chase. Could it be to Australia’s advantage that they have pushed harder so far?

In a sign of how the England sides diverge across formats, there’s a good chance that only two of the possible XI (Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler) play the opening Test at the Gabba whereas Australia will have five. With the exception of Chris Woakes from the players used so far, England’s bowlers are white-ball specialists.

The teams have not met in a T20I World Cup since the 2010 final in Barbados when England prevailed. David Warner, Steven Smith (who batted at No. 8 and was one of five bowlers) and Eoin Morgan are three survivors from that day. Australia have not gone as deep in the tournament since then.

Form guide

Australia WWLWL
England WWWWL

In the spotlight

Australia’s first two games have brought contrasting returns for the fifth bowler. Against South Africa, Glenn Maxwell was able to get through his four overs for a run-a-ball (and a wicket) but against Sri Lanka he and Marcus Stoinis conceded 51 between them. It’s the trade-off the balance of the side brings and, so far, the deep batting order has helped Australia: the middle order finished the chase against South Africa and they took just 17 overs to knock off the runs on Thursday. With the three frontline quicks and Adam Zampa going well it’s a gamble Australia can probably keep taking.

Australia have overcome the spin challenges posed by South Africa and Sri Lanka pretty effectively, although Wanindu Hasaranga, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi were all able to maintain good control. It is likely to be an area England will be confident of exploiting. Moeen Ali has been outstanding against West Indies and Bangladesh and with the right-hand dominated Australia order Adil Rashid could also come to the fore. In his last outing against them in Southampton he took 3 for 21.

Team news

Despite that potential fifth-bowler weakness, it would appear unlikely Australia will change things. Ashton Agar remains an option if required. If they did bolster the bowling it would probably be at the expense of Mitchell Marsh who was the form player coming into the tournament.

Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Mark Wood has so far been sidelined with an ankle niggle which will be a concern given his injury history and Tom Curran has a knee problem. On form there seems little reason for England to tinker.

England (probable) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (wk), 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Tymal Mills

Pitch and conditions

Win the toss, win the game? It’s starting to look like that with successful chases the dominant theme. Where the pitch is located on the square will dictate if there is a short boundary to target.

Stats and trivia

  • England and Australia are two of the oldest sides in the Super 12s: Tom Curran (26) is the youngest player in either squad, while Liam Livingstone (28) is the youngest to have made an appearance so far.
  • Stoinis has a remarkable head-to-head record against Chris Jordan. He’s faced 36 balls from him in all T20 cricket, scoring 87 runs without being dismissed.
  • Moeen has bowled three of the first six overs in both of England’s games so far. He could have his work cut out against Aaron Finch, who strikes at 177.50 against offspin in the Powerplay (and 187.89 overall) in T20Is.
  • Quotes

    “We’re looking forward to it. They’ve probably been the form side in white-ball cricket for a long time. We love playing them and it’ll be an entertaining game.”
    Aaron Finch on facing England

    “It will take some time for the entire landscape to shift and change, and it might be a little bit here and a little bit there at any given time. If taking the knee contributes towards that education and us slightly changing the landscape and pushing in a slightly different direction, we definitely want to continue to do that.”
    Chris Jordan explains why England will keep taking a knee

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo