Match Preview – Australia vs England, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 26th Match, Group 1
In a few weeks the focus will be on the drawn-out battle of an Ashes series (although, in truth, a lot has already been said) but this meeting between England and Australia is a short, sharp encounter. A win for either of the great rivals would make it three from three and put one foot in a semi-final.
This should be England’s toughest test of the competition after a walkover against West Indies and barely needing to get out of second gear against Bangladesh. Likewise for Australia, it will likely give a much better indication of exactly where their T20 game sits. The signs against Sri Lanka were promising, both in how they hauled in a brisk start and then commanded the run chase. Could it be to Australia’s advantage that they have pushed harder so far?
In a sign of how the England sides diverge across formats, there’s a good chance that only two of the possible XI (Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler) play the opening Test at the Gabba whereas Australia will have five. With the exception of Chris Woakes from the players used so far, England’s bowlers are white-ball specialists.
The teams have not met in a T20I World Cup since the 2010 final in Barbados when England prevailed. David Warner, Steven Smith (who batted at No. 8 and was one of five bowlers) and Eoin Morgan are three survivors from that day. Australia have not gone as deep in the tournament since then.
In the spotlight
Australia’s first two games have brought contrasting returns for the fifth bowler. Against South Africa, Glenn Maxwell was able to get through his four overs for a run-a-ball (and a wicket) but against Sri Lanka he and Marcus Stoinis conceded 51 between them. It’s the trade-off the balance of the side brings and, so far, the deep batting order has helped Australia: the middle order finished the chase against South Africa and they took just 17 overs to knock off the runs on Thursday. With the three frontline quicks and Adam Zampa going well it’s a gamble Australia can probably keep taking.
Despite that potential fifth-bowler weakness, it would appear unlikely Australia will change things. Ashton Agar remains an option if required. If they did bolster the bowling it would probably be at the expense of Mitchell Marsh who was the form player coming into the tournament.
Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Mark Wood has so far been sidelined with an ankle niggle which will be a concern given his injury history and Tom Curran has a knee problem. Morgan said both players were “progressing well” and that a late call would be taken, though on form, there seems little reason for England to tinker.
England (probable) 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jos Buttler (wk), 3 Dawid Malan, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Tymal Mills
Pitch and conditions
Win the toss, win the game? It’s starting to look like that with successful chases the dominant theme. Where the pitch is located on the square will dictate if there is a short boundary to target. David Warner said he expected the suface would have “a bit more bounce and carry” than the one Australia faced Sri Lanka on.
Stats and trivia
“We’re looking forward to it. They’ve probably been the form side in white-ball cricket for a long time. We love playing them and it’ll be an entertaining game.”
Aaron Finch on facing England
“It will take some time for the entire landscape to shift and change, and it might be a little bit here and a little bit there at any given time. If taking the knee contributes towards that education and us slightly changing the landscape and pushing in a slightly different direction, we definitely want to continue to do that.”
Chris Jordan explains why England will keep taking a knee
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo