Looking to England, planning for India
It must have been painful, but Australian media has acknowledged that their team may have to read from the blueprint of the England turnaround to be a force at the next World Cup. Eoin Morgan’s team was a laughing stock at the 2015 edition, but a complete makeover sees them one step away from the ultimate glory.
“Australia’s eight-wicket loss to England in their semifinal at Edgbaston exposed the gap between a battle-hardened unit built over four years and an almost-patchwork Australian side that had been hit by injury, suspension and questionable long-term planning,” John Pierik wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald. It will also have to be assessed whether skipper Aaron Finch and head coach Justin Langer were the right people to helm the 50-over side.
“Finch had been praised as the captain of the tournament by former England skipper Michael Vaughan but, turning 33 in December, he is unlikely to be the man who leads Australia at the next World Cup in India,” according to Pierik.
Whether others such as David Warner, Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc will be on that plane to India is not certain either. “Langer is only one year into his four-year deal, so a decision will have to made closer to the Indian tournament whether he and CA want to continue their partnership. That will be a crucial decision, for any new coach may want to introduce a different game plan… While there is much cricket to be played before the next World Cup in different conditions, an eye will have to be on finding players who can succeed on what will likely be the flat and spinning pitches of the sub-continent,” he added. Australian selectors, over the years, have not been afraid to take tough calls, and it could be more of the same over the next few years. “Glenn Maxwell, 31 in October, and Marcus Stoinis, 30 next month, are unlikely to feature,” Pierik felt.
On the other hand, “vice-captain Alex Carey, who emerged as a force in this tournament, turns 28 in August and should be at the peak of his powers come 2023. Pat Cummins, 26, and Handscomb, 28, the latter an excellent player of spin, could also be key planks. If Handscomb can secure his spot in the side, he shapes as a captaincy candidate.”
England endured a similar churning after the 2015 World Cup, and the result has been spectacular. If Australia go on the same path, who knows, there could be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.!
“Sandpaper over cracks”
Gary Lineker was at his sarcastic best, England hammered Australia. He was a little cautious to start with and waited for Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow to get into the groove. “Desperately want to tweet again about how bloody brilliant @jbairstow21 and @JasonRoy20 are, but don’t want to jinx them…like jinxing players is actually a thing. Just in case, though, I’ll refrain.”
As the two England openers continued to steamroll the Aussies, hetweeted again, this time with a touch of schadenfreude. “Thoughts are with our Australian friends at this difficult time.” Victory came with 107 balls to spare and Lineker rubbed salt into the Australian wound after deepening it with ‘sandpaper’. “You could see this defeat coming for Australia: you can only sandpaper over the cracks for so long,” he posted.
About 120 miles down the road at Westminster, which is now the grand theatre of a sitcom even better than Yes Minister – currently playing Brexit – finally there was unity. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who not many moons ago had trolled the outgoing Prime Minister, Theresa May, with an anti-Brexit fireworks show on the 2019 New Year’s eve, put out a tweet congratulating England for reaching the World Cup final. “Congratulations to @EnglandCricket for their #CWC19 semi-final win against Australia. London is behind you all the way, and you’ve made us proud! Best of luck in the final on Sunday against New Zealand at Lord’s.” It almost coincided with May’s tweet that said: “Great win for @EnglandCricket today – every England fan will have enjoyed that one! Good luck for Sunday.” Cricket unites.
And then came the gloating
For a country whose media is so used to seeing star-studded team, be it football or cricket, hold so much promise and then fall embarrassingly short, there was surprise at how well the England team dominated in their semi-final win over defending champions Australia. Now was the time to gloat.
Veteran journalists Rob Smyth and Geoff Lemon who were in charge of The Guardian’s live blog tried to make some sense of it moments after the win. “It’s quite hard to make sense of what we watched today,” their final entry read. “England have marmalised Australia in a World Cup semi-final. You have to feel for this Australian team, especially their admirable captain Aaron Finch. It’s no consolation, not to a country of serial winners, but they have come so far in the last year. England have travelled even further in the last four years. They are one win away from immortality. Trouble is, so are New Zealand. It’s all quite emotional – especially if you’re a member of Generation FFS, that hardy, masochistic, downright odd group of England supporters who have followed every ODI their team has lost and played in the last 27 years.”
It was a gracious celebration of a historic win. But the duo did quote, and commend, the plans of a certain Rachel Gray. “I have a date with an Australian this evening,” said Gray. “It was of course going to be following our victory over India, then I saw it as an opportunity to appear gracious after a close defeat, but I am utterly unequipped to deal with this. How do I get through the evening without being totally insufferable?”
The Guardian’s reaction: “You can’t, so the next best thing is to get so paggered on Victory Juice that you won’t remember being insufferable, which means you weren’t.” So the gloating did happen, eventually.