Semi Finals Here We Come

Ah June. Glorious June. The days are long; the nights are short. The Champions Trophy is underway and the football season has mercifully finished. Prepare yourself for a heatwave.

Or not.

Is it just me or is the weather always shit in Cardiff? The rain mostly stayed away this time – meaning I can’t trot out my usual ‘SWA-LAKE’ joke – but we got a hurricane instead. Marvellous.

Thankfully however, the stormy gusts didn’t blow us off course. Kane Williamson, who is possibly the best batsman in the world (go on, try make an argument that someone else is better) briefly threatened to pull off an upset, but luckily it didn’t materialise. The Kiwi players around him generally collapsed in a heap and England have secured a semi final berth. Hoorah!

England’s total of 310 was a team effort really. Although Jos put the icing on the cake, the cake itself was baked by Alex Hales and Joe Root (again), plus 53 from the world’s grumpiest and most expensive all-rounder.

Has anyone else noticed that Stokes is going bald by the way? I guess it isn’t such a big deal if you’re ginger ;-)

Scoring 310 on a pitch that wasn’t quite the belter England usually order was always going to prove tough for New Zealand. Having said that, if Jake Ball had bowled badly and Martin Guptill had batted well (the latter always seems to do well against us), it might have been a different story.

Luckily Ball had one of his good days, Mark Wood was his usual excellent self, Liam Plunkett continued his good form, and Adil Rashid managed to land it on the strip more often than not. Once Williamson and Taylor were dismissed the result was never in doubt.

England are now in the semis (already!) and we’ve therefore cemented our billing as tournament favourites. We’re currently 2-1 with many bookies. Check out the freebets at BetHut if you want to back us.

Our next game, of course, is Australia. It will be interesting to see how we approach this fixture. Will we rest some players – perhaps giving Jonny Bairstow another opportunity to show how good he is – or will we go for the jugular, try to maintain momentum, and finish the Aussies off?

After seeing their first two games reach a wet and dismal conclusion, the Aussies need to beat us to progress. In fact, their players are already calling the game a quarter-final.

I think I might die laughing if this game is rained off too. If the English cricket team don’t get ya, our weather certainly will!

My personal feeling is that we should pick a full strength side and avoid the temptation to get cocky. Australia are a dangerous team and if we let them progress it might come back to bite us on the rump.

James Morgan

Written in collaboration with BetHut.


  • Will we rest some players – perhaps giving Jonny Bairstow another opportunity to show how good he is – or will we go for the jugular…

    Bringing in Bairstow would hardly be weakening the side – but who needs resting at this point anyway ?
    In any event, finish Australia off if we can.

      • I’m not sure that would be classed as resting – he’s not exactly overexerted himself.
        I’d probably have Barstow open in his place. Minimal messing around.

  • Cricinfo was suggesting the Australia game was a “dead rubber” for England. No, it’s against the Aussies. I agree they’re dangerous. With apologies to South Africa, they’ve got the best fast bowling unit in the competition. My own inclination would be to “rest” Jake Ball for that game, and play David Willey instead. Lengthens the batting, and we know how good the Aussies are when the ball moves.

  • Not sure anyone needs resting, one game Saturday then a break until Wednesday is more of a break than England players would get during most bilateral series. Mark Wood might be worth protecting but England should really just cut down players training time during a major comp.

    Would be nice to get Bairstow a game, I was hoping that he would be allowed to play the RLODC QF against Surrey but now England play the day after so it won’t surprise me if he isn’t allowed to travel. Will still find it odd with Billings there, how a player is too vital to leave to not important enough to play.

    • I think it’s hard to make an argument that Smith is definitively better than Williamson though. That’s my point really. There’s very little to separate Kohli, Root, Williamson and Smith.

      It’s worth pointing out that Williamson plays for the weakest team (arguably) and often has to carry his side. That’s got to be worth a few extra points. NZ is also a more difficult place to bat than Australia.

      What’s more, Williamson’s ODI record is better than Smith’s. And ODIs is what we’re talking about here.

      To my eyes (and I admit I’m a purist) I think WIlliamson is better than Smith as he has a better technique and he’s easier on the eye to watch. However, I accept this is purely subjective. It’s hard to argue definitively that any of the big 4 (or big 5/6 if we include Amla and De Villiers) are better than the rest. They’re all world class.

      • Smith is clearly numero uno in tests. He averages a good ten runs higher than the other people last time I checked. And Virat Kohli is clearly tops at ODIs. One could however argue that Kane is second at both. Does that make him the best? Smith ain’t too shabby at ODIs also. Hmmm. Admittedly I haven’t crunched them numbers in a while so maybe things have changed.

  • Great win by Pakistan today, with very dodgy South African tactics. Batting with that forecast, what was all that about?

    Anyone for an England/Pakistan semi final

    • Lower scoring games probably suit Pakistan. They’re a bit old school.

    • Sri Lanka have just done an “all bets are off” job on India in Group B, so the next matches are essentially knock outs. Just don’t tell South Africa that!

  • No need to rest anyone. Why disturb the rhythm of a well settled side midway through a major ICC tournament?
    Just go on and finish off Australia, send them back down under so they can resolve their pay disputes with CA.


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