England crush Australia to reach Cricket World Cup final
Reaction to stunning semi-final victory for Eoin Morgan's rampant side
England produced what their captain Eoin Morgan described as “close to a perfect performance” as they thrashed Australia by eight wickets to reach their first Cricket World Cup final since 1992.
Given the way they dismantled the Aussies, the hosts will be the red-hot favourites against New Zealand at Lord’s on Sunday, but bear in mind what the Kiwis did to the mighty Indians on Wednesday.
If the first semi-final went down to the wire at Old Trafford, Edgbaston witnessed an embarrassingly one-sided contest as England crushed Australia without mercy. After winning the toss and electing to bat, the visitors were in disarray from the start as Aaron Finch, David Warner and Peter Handscomb were removed in quick succession to leave Australia reeling at 14-3.
Steve Smith and Alex Carey steadied the ship with a century partnership, but once Carey threw away his wicket with a reckless heave to Adil Rashid the remaining wickets fell quickly. Rashid finished with figures of 3-54 while Archer, who struck Carey a fearful blow on his helmet, picked up a couple and man-of-the-match Chris Woakes claimed three victims.
Only Smith offered any resistance, his gritty knock of 85 was in stark contrast to the feebleness of his teammates. That innings enabled the Aussies to stagger to 223 all out, but it would require something special from the Australian bowlers if they were to reach an eighth final. Instead of special, they were spanked as England’s opening pair of Jason Roy and David Bairstow put on 124 for the first wicket.
Roy wreaks havoc
Roy, who made 85, was at his bludgeoning best, smashing Smith for three sixes in one over, but he let himself down with his reaction to his dismissal. The Surrey man was closing in on a century when he wafted at a leg-side bouncer and was given out caught behind despite not touching the ball.
He showed clear dissent after what was admittedly a terrible decision by umpire Kumar Dharmasena and had to be ushered off the pitch. He received an ICC fine as a consequence, but will be free to play in the final. After his exit Eoin Morgan and Joe Root guided England home with 17.5 overs to spare.
Big day on Sunday
Sunday’s final, which will be shown as free-to-air on Channel 4, will be the biggest day in English cricket for a generation, and captain Morgan can’t wait. “This final is a huge opportunity for us,” he said. “Looking back to where we were in 2015 compared to now it’s such a dramatic improvement and everyone in the dressing room deserves a huge amount of credit. Making the most of it would be brilliant but getting to the final alone is awesome.”
What they said:
England’s Joe Root: ”I’m still pinching myself. It’s an amazing feeling.”
England’s Jofra Archer: ”It’s up there with one of the best days in my career but then Sunday might be the best so I’ll save it for then.”
England’s Chris Woakes: ”It hasn’t sunk in that we’re in a World Cup final and hopefully we can go all the way.”
Australia captain Aaron Finch: “We were totally outplayed today. The way they set the tone with the ball in those first ten overs was a huge part in the game... We didn’t execute as well as we could and got hurt by a very good England team.”
BBC pundit Michael Vaughan: “Don’t rule out New Zealand but if this England team arrive and play to the same standard on Sunday they could do the same again.”
Former England captain Alastair Cook: “I can’t believe I have just watched that. You always think there will be a twist in the tail but there was no twist. England were so good.”
Michael Atherton in The Times: ”The World Cup will have a new owner. Neither England nor New Zealand have ever won it, but they will now play each other at Lord’s on Sunday after Eoin Morgan’s players bared their teeth on the biggest cricketing day of their lives and mauled Australia.”
The Sydney Morning Herald: “The host nation has destroyed Australia... This has been a clinical performance by England, who were ruthless with bat and ball. They crippled Australia's innings with three early strikes then made short work of the run chase. At no stage did Aaron Finch's side look remotely like defending the target of 224.”