Australia captain Aaron Finch feels with the amount of time they have played England in recent times, it will all boil down to whoever holds their nerve better when the two traditional rivals lock horns in the second semi-final of the World Cup at Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham on Thursday.
England have won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two sides since the 2015 World Cup.
At this World Cup, Australia beat England by 64 runs earlier at Lord’s.
Finch said England have been “front-runners” in world cricket since the last World Cup which Australia and New Zealand hosted.
“I think when we look at our side at the moment we are full of confidence going into this game. Obviously, England have been probably the front-runners in world cricket over the last four years, the way they have changed the game, their game plan in particular has been very aggressive, taking it to the opposition,” Finch said at the pre-match press conference.
“So for us we know how they are going to play, they know how we are going to play. We have played each other a lot over the last couple of years, so it will be whoever holds their nerves, whoever takes the half chances, whoever starts off the game really well in the first ten overs, whether it is with bat or ball, it will be so important for either side.
“I think World Cups are very special, they bring out the best in the best players, so I think that’s why Australia have had a very rich history in World Cups. I mean, winning four of the last five, it’s been a great achievement,” he said.
They came into the tournament as favourites, but England’s poor show in the middle of the group stages saw them almost being ousted from the competition.
But the hosts got their act right and won their last two games against India and New Zealand to qualify for the semi-finals of the showpiece event.
A resurgent Australian outfit — under the able leadership of Finch — has taken the showpiece event by storm and has once again shown an affinity to rise to the challenge on the big stage. The first team to qualify for the knockouts, Australia lost their last group game against South Africa which saw them finish second on the points table, otherwise, they looked set to be finishing as leaders after the group stage.
“It’s been exciting. It’s been a great build-up in the last few days since our South African game. I think we’ve had a really good preparation the last few days, the guys have had a really good hit out, so now is the time to get down to the cricket. It is very exciting,” Finch said talking about preparation.
Asked about David Warner and whether he’s shown extra responsibility since his return after a one-year suspension, Finch said: “Yeah, 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 semi-finals.
“The way he has gone about his innings, particularly at the start of the tournament, was finding his feet a little bit back, finding the pace of the game again, but the last few games against some really world-class attacks he’s played beautifully, under pressure he’s played really well also.”
Warner is the second highest run-getter in the tournament so far with 638 runs in nine matches smashing three hundreds and three fifties.
Finch also vouched for the pitch here, saying it looked a good wicket. Asked whether the massive victory over England at Lord’s would help, Finch reiterated that it will be about the team that cashes in on the opportunities.
“I said before, it will be about which team takes the opportunities, takes that half-chance and grabs the momentum and runs with it as much as they can. They are always great games. I know I have played in one World Cup semi-final and it was a hell of an experience, it was an unbelievable game, so not expecting too much different.”
The Aussies will miss the services of Usman Khawaja who has been ruled out due to injury. Coach Justin Langer has hinted that Peter Handscomb could make his debut and Glenn Maxwell is not guaranteed a place in the side.
Maxwell was not in training too, something Finch said should not be read too much into as it was optional.
“We’ll name our side tomorrow at the toss as usual,” Finch said when asked if Handscomb is surely in the playing XI.