England captain Eoin Morgan is hoping to take advantage of the Edgbaston effect in the Cricket World Cup semifinal against Australia on Thursday.
Ahead of England’s first semifinal appearance since 1992, Morgan and his teammates trained on the Birmingham pitch Wednesday, finding time to kick a football around a ground that often has raucous soccer-style atmosphere on match days.
“I think that is part and parcel of being the hosts, a little bit of home advantage,” Morgan said. “I think it plays a part here at Edgbaston. There is a reason we do have a lot of success here. The wicket tends to suit us, but also the support as well.”
Australia’s players can expect endless ribbing from a partisan crowd, some of it likely turning outright hostile for opener David Warner and former captain Steve Smith after their bans for a ball-tampering controversy last year.
More importantly for Morgan’s men, Edgbaston appears to have an equalizing effect for England.
England has won 10 of the last 12 ODI games against Australia, but the Australians have won four straight where it really matters _ in World Cup play, where England last beat Australia in 1992.
But throw in “The E Factor” and the stats offer England fans some comfort ahead of the visit of the five-time champion.
England has won its last 10 matches against opponents in all formats at Edgbaston, including four ODIs; England has beaten Australia in three straight ODI games at Edgbaston; Australia has failed to win in nine matches at Edgbaston across all formats, and its last win of any kind here was a test match in 2001.
Despite all this, Australia captain Aaron Finch takes a generous view of Edgbaston.
“It’s a great crowd to play in front of, regardless whether you are on the receiving end of some good banter,” Finch said Wednesday at the ground. “I think although they can be quite parochial at times, it is always good fun. They sing some good tunes out there.”
Aaron Finch plans to relax by going to the movies ahead of semifinal against England
Aaron Finch wants to see a dog _ and not a dreaded duck _ in the next 24 hours.
The Australia captain was asked how his team would relax ahead of the Cricket World Cup semifinal against England on Thursday.
“It is up to the individual, just feet up,” Finch said Wednesday at Edgbaston. “I think I’m off to watch a movie with the wife this afternoon _ `The Queen’s Corgi’ is coming out today so I will be off to see that.”
Mention of the animated comedy triggered laughter at the news conference.
“What’s wrong with that?” asked Finch, smiling.
Dogs beat ducks for batters every day. In cricket, there’s nothing to fear more than a “golden duck” _ out first ball _ or just a duck for being dismissed without scoring. Some TV stations see batters walk off the field with a computer-generated duck alongside them on screen as they leave.
Not that Finch has been in too much danger of that this tournament.
He’s amassed 507 runs, at an average of 56 and scoring at a run a ball, though he got only 3 against South Africa in his last match. Finch’s opening partner, David Warner, has scored even more runs _ 638 _ at an average close to 80.
“It’s been unbelievable, his output I think just purely based on the amount of runs he’s made has been a huge contribution to why we are here in the semifinals,” Finch said about Warner.
For all their big-hitting _ the right-and-left handed pair have 111 fours and 26 sixes between them _ Finch is more of a cricketing purist when it comes to his favorite ODI games.
“I know the fans want to see huge scores and lots of boundaries, lots of sixes … But I find the most entertaining games are those 240, 260 games when there is a bit in the wicket for everyone. If you bowl well, you get rewarded. If you bat well and get through them periods, you equally get rewarded. So I think it’s shown what a really good contest between bat and ball can do.”
Finch was asked if the ongoing successful campaign represented “redemption” for the national team, with Australia still emerging from a turbulent period where former captain Steve Smith and vice-captain Warner were suspended for their roles in a ball-tampering controversy in a test match in South Africa.
“We don’t play or we don’t have any extra motivation because of redemption, we are representing our country each and every game and that’s enough for us,” Finch said.
“But I think the way that we have gone about our cricket, the way we have gone about playing all our games has been in the right spirit, as has the whole competition … as far as redemption goes, I think that’s up to the individuals to tell them stories once the tournament is over.”