Having won the toss and batted first, the last thing Australia would have wanted was a top-order collapse against hosts England in the 2019 World Cup semi-final encounter at the Edgbaston Cricket Stadium. But that is exactly what happened and skipper Aaron Finch made no bones about the fact that the match was lost there.
“Definitely in the first 10 overs of the game. We know they were going to come really aggressive at us with the bat, so we had to be aggressive with the ball, we had to take or create ten chances and take them as well. So, especially against England, it wasn’t going to be a game that peters out into the 47th, 48th over. It was going to be ultra-aggressive and they got on top of us early with the bat.
“But the damage was really done with the ball. That sets you back. That forced us to rebuild for such a long time and start to drag some momentum back and then like I said, you lose a couple of quick wickets again, new batters starting, it is always tough against really good leg-spin and good quicks as well. So, all in all, we were totally outplayed to be honest all throughout the day, so you look back at that and you can analyse each ten overs, but just outplayed,” he said.
But Finch praised the duo of Steve Smith and Alex Carey for putting up a 100-run partnership after the initial setback. He felt that the duo gave the bowlers something to play with.
“If it were not for our middle-order today, we would have been in real trouble. We still managed to get 230-odd. I think the way that Steve and Alex formed that partnership and managed to really drag us back into the game after a tough start was really important. I think the way that they managed to soak up pressure and then slowly start to transfer a bit more pressure back on to England before we lost our way again. It was a bit of a frantic start, three-fer in the powerplay and a good partnership and a couple of quick wickets again which always sets you back a little bit.
“Yes, I think a lot of teams have been in a similar boat. I think most of the time opening the batting has been the easiest place, so not to be today for myself and Dave (Warner) and Pete (Handscomb) at no. four. It was tough conditions at the start. England bowled very well. We just needed to find a way through that period to really set a platform for the middle overs,” he pointed.
Asked if there were talks about Glenn Maxwell and his performance, Finch said: “I thought he started off really well and got us into some really good positions, even the game against India, where he started to build some real momentum. Again, probably a few starts here and there instead of what he has done in the past where he went on and got the really match-winning contribution.
“But with the ball, I know he didn’t get any wickets but he was reasonably economical when and did that in some really tough places, so I know that he’s disappointed. International cricket is very hard (smiling).
“You weigh up every possible 11, whatever you think’s the strongest 11 to win the game, matching up to England, also what is in your best interests in terms of your strengths and stuff like that, so you put dozens of teams up, dozens of combinations and that happens every game, you throw enough stuff in the air, but we were really confident to back Maxxy (Maxwell) in to the game.
“Like I said yesterday, he’s such a dynamic player, he brings three skill-sets to the table that are really hard to ignore at times as a player. And we have seen how damaging and how much of a match-winner he can be in the past and we saw in the last World Cup the impact that he had in big games.
“So it just wasn’t to be today and it’s not just that, our senior guys, myself, Davey (David Warner), we didn’t get going, Starcy (Mitchell Starc) didn’t get going, Pat Cummins, guys that you expect to stand up in big games, we were just outplayed.”
Finch went on to add that the team was hugely disappointed after being thrashed by England in the semi-final.
“Very disappointed. We came here today expecting to win. We felt like our preparation leading into the tournament and then the momentum we’d built-up through the tournament was really important and we came here feeling good, we trained well, we had enough break in between games and guys were fresh enough, so very disappointing,” he added.