Australia became the first side to book a semifinal berth in the World Cup but team’s pace spearhead Mitchell Starc said the defending champions can’t afford to take their foot off the gas ahead of the knock-out stage. Australia on Tuesday defeated hosts England by 64 runs at Lord’s here to seal a place in the last-four. But ahead of the semifinal, Australia still have two more league games remaining against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand and South Africa. “There’s a lot of cricket to come before semifinal time. We’ve got two really important games but playing here at Lord’s where the final is going to be has given us confidence,” Starc said.
“We’ve got another game here against New Zealand, which is going to be tough. They’re playing some fantastic cricket and they’ve really gone under the radar. Nobody’s really spoken too much about them and they keep winning games. Starc, who returned with impressive figures of 8.4-1-43-4, showered accolades on left-arm pace colleague Jason Behrendorff (5/44), who took a five-for in only his second World Cup match. “Dorff bowled awesome, beautifully, and deserved his five wickets – and it’s great to see him do so well here at Lord’s against England. I’ve bowled a fair bit with Mitchell Johnson in the past and this showed again today that there’s no reason why you can’t play two left-armers when the pitch and match-ups suit,” he said.
“Dorff actually asked me if there was anything of note about the wicket here and, to be honest, I didn’t have much for him as I haven’t been here for about four years.” Starc removed the well-settled Ben Stokes (89) with an unplayable reverse swing yorker, just when the English all-rounder looked threatening. “He’s (Stokes) a fantastic player, one of their key batters. He nearly got them home against Sri Lanka and so we knew while he was batting that we couldn’t rest up. Fortunately, I got one through the gate,” said Starc.
“I’ve got a pretty simple one-day plan and for me it’s all about execution. To execute that ball exactly how I wanted and for it to result the way it did was pleasing for me – but it was pleasing to contribute to the whole group.” Starc also laughed off a confrontation with an English fan, who tried to sledge him at the breakfast in his team hotel. “Some bloke in a suit was having a go about my strapping tape on my elbow and about me eating too much and how it was going to affect my bowling! I had a few poached eggs, three I think,” smiled Starc. “He had a bit of a click at me – all good fun. I was still half-asleep, didn’t think much of it.