Five reasons why Australia will beat England in World Cup blockbuster … and five more why they won’t

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The words “elimination final” and “MCG” are not normally reserved for roundball sports at Australia’s largest stadium, but all that will change this Friday night.

Australia and England will have an early taste of knockout cricket when they clash in Melbourne. The loser may as well kiss their semi-final dreams goodbye. The winner will live to fight another day. 

Ireland’s win over England on Wednesday threw the group wide open. It placed Jos Buttler’s men in a vulnerable position and gave hope to Aaron Finch’s team, which dealt with Sri Lanka relatively comfortably 24 hours earlier in Perth.

The great excitement around Friday’s elimination final is that both teams have genuine match winners and significant flaws in equal measure. In the space of two games apiece, we’ve seen both ends of the spectrum on display. 

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As a result, we don’t really know what to expect on Friday. This sense of uncertainty is heightened in the T20 format, where random events and unexpected errors regularly define matches. 

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 25: Marcus Stoinis of Australia celebrates his half century during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between Australia and Sri Lanka at Perth Stadium on October 25, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Drilling down into the match is what we do here. As such, here are five reasons why each team can win.

Australia

1. Home conditions

This one speaks for itself. Australia proved they can win anywhere in 2021, but they are still at their strongest on these shores. It’s what makes New Zealand’s upset last Saturday even more impressive. 

Traditionally, Australia also relishes these contests in their own backyard. England will be up against it even before a ball is bowled on Friday night. 

2. Warner is due

Beware the sleeping bull.  Having turned 36 on Thursday, Warner would love a birthday bash to see the Aussies home against the old enemy. It sounds a bit silly, but he has looked perfectly assured, balanced and fit in his two knocks of five and 11. He was unlucky to be bowled against the Kiwis, and belted a ball to cover against Sri Lanka.

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He rarely goes three games without contributing with the bat in the white ball arena and he will enjoy Mark Wood’s pace at the same venue where he announced himself on the world stage all those years ago. 

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 09: David Warner of Australia raises his bat after reaching his half century during game one of the T20 International series between Australia and England at Optus Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Kane – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

3. England are wounded

The ODI 2019 World Cup win went a long way towards silencing any doubters around England’s performances in major tournaments. But like it or not, the country has underdelivered across a long period of time in cricket and soccer. Ardent critics would say choking on the biggest stage is deeply cultural, and the Ireland loss was hardly a moment to dispel this perspective. 

To suggest England can lose to Ireland on Wednesday and defeat Australia on Friday makes next to no sense. Their bowling was shabby and batting timid and error-riddled the other evening. Australia love hunting a wounded dog and they will smell blood on Friday night. 

4. Stoinis the runaway train

We’ve never seen a T20 half-century from an Australian like the one Marcus Stoinis delivered in Perth. The record-breaking knock showcased his full repertoire of bullish slaps and crisp swats. It was as pure as it comes. No ground is big enough for Stoinis when he’s in those moods, including the expansive MCG, where he plies his trade every summer for the Melbourne Stars. 

He is in red-hot form and alongside Warner, the key wicket for England. 

5. The best quick in the world

Of the top seven T20 bowlers in the world, Josh Hazlewood is the only seamer. His ranking slipped this week to two with the ICC – the New South Welshman has three wickets from two games this tournament but will relish the chance to dissect England’s top order again.

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If conditions at the MCG are the same as they were on Wednesday, Hazlewood’s back of a length skills will be perfectly suited to the pitch. Expect him to be very difficult to score freely from. 

Josh Hazlewood celebrates.

Josh Hazlewood celebrates taking a wicket against Sri Lanka. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

England

1. Star power

At the very least, England’s best matches Australia’s best, as we saw earlier in the summer. You could argue Jos Buttler’s finest work with the bat is almost unsurpassed in world cricket. Ben Stokes loves playing against the Aussies, and Dawid Malan is one of the smartest T20 batters in the world. Then there is Alex Hales, who has played plenty of BBL and is due to explode at the top of the order. In short, you can’t argue England does not boast the top end talent to worry the home team.

2. Raw pace

Mark Wood is the quickest bowler by some distance at this World Cup. He has already been clocked eclipsing the 150km/h mark several times across two matches. Although this means the ball flies off the bat quicker, it also makes him more dangerous as a genuine wicket-taker. 

It doesn’t matter who you are, coming to the crease and needing to score quickly against a bloke sending them down this rapidly is not easy. 

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 09: Jos Buttler of England and Matthew Wade of Australia watch the ball go for six during game one of the T20 International series between Australia and England at Optus Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

(Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

3. Fading Finch

Finch will be hoping he can rise to the occasion on Friday night, but the reality is the chances of this happening are highly unlikely.

By his own admission he was “poor” against Sri Lanka, even though he carried his bat through the innings. The harsh reality is Finch looks incredibly vulnerable to straight deliveries and has done so for more than a year. Chris Woakes may not have the pace of Wood, but will back his chances to blow Finch’s front pad off from the outset. 

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Finch getting out early doesn’t automatically mean Australia will lose, but he’s nevertheless a captain under the pump and clearly the weak link in the home side’s top order. 

4. Uncertainty at either end of the innings

New Zealand rocketed out of the blocks against Australia in Sydney and Sri Lanka came home like a steam train in Perth. 

While Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis and a combination of the quicks fulfil roles in the middle of the innings, the Aussies still haven’t got it right with the new ball or at the death.

Mitchell Starc surely has to take the brand new rock, while Pat Cummins is proving a liability in overs 18, 19 and 20. In fact, Cummins’ T20I record over the last two years is ordinary at best. In 18 matches he has taken 16 wickets at an economy rate nudging nine. Mark Waugh doubts whether Cummins is in Australia’s best XI, while Damien Fleming wrote for The Roar this week he should be spared of death bowling duty altogether. 

Either way, there is instability around roles and responsibilities in Australia’s bowling group and the English can exploit that.

5. The Aussie traitors 

Ok, ‘traitor’ might be a bit strong. But in coach Matthew Mott and assistant Michael Hussey, England have two of the sharpest minds this country has to offer.

Mott has worked with many of the Aussie men across the journey, but Hussey is the real key here. Through his various roles, he would have a deep knowledge of the Australian players, their strengths and their weaknesses.

Working across enemy lines is a prospect Hussey confirmed would feel a touch weird, but his influence on England’s team shapes as a big advantage from a tactical perspective. 



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