ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP 2019
England will look to put behind the loss versus Sri Lanka © Getty
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The year was 1788. Arthur Phillip led a Fleet from England to Australia and established a Penal colony in Sydney. It was also the year when the new settlers in Australia played a game of bat and ball that is known as cricket.
Time flies and as the clock tick-tocked ruthlessly, cricketing ties between England and Australia started to grow. In 1861-62, HH Stephenson, better known for his round arm pace bowling, led an English team to Australia and the side partook in 12 games; none of them were counted as first class matches.
A worthy mention also has to go to the Australian Aboriginal cricket team that toured England in 1868. The set-up was captained and coached by Tom Wills, with Johnny Mullagh being the star player of the side.
The first Test between England and Australia was played at the MCG in 1877. However, it was in 1882 when the legend of Ashes began. Fred Spofforth, the Australian fast bowler, motivated by W.G. Grace’s gamesmanship, bowled a stunning spell, which included taking his last four wickets for just two runs to engineer a come-from-behind victory at The Oval. Before bowling that spell, the fiery pacer had said: “This thing can be done.”
It resulted in a London journalist, Reginald Shirley Brooks penning down an “obituary” in the Sporting Times. “In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at The Oval, 29th August, 1882. Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances, RIP. NB The body will be cremated and the Ashes taken to Australia.”
For a while, let’s steer away from the legend of Ashes as we are looking at the ongoing 50-over World Cup, where the two age-old rivals would go head-to-head in a crucial clash at the home of cricket, Lord’s.
England and Australia have certainly been a part of some thrilling World Cup games. In the 1975 World Cup semifinal, Australia were reduced to a precarious 39 for 6 in pursuit of just 94! However, Gary Gilmour, the hero of Australia’s 1975 World Cup campaign, steered them home with an unbeaten 28. Earlier, he had also picked up an astonishing 6 for 14.
In the 1987 World Cup final at the iconic Eden Gardens, at 135 for 3, in pursuit of 254, England seemed to be on their way to hoisting the World Cup trophy for the first time. Mike Gatting, the England skipper, and one of their better players of spin in the side, was looking in fine touch.
Just that against the run of play, Gatting tried an ill-advised reverse sweep off Allan Border and was dismissed. Australia soon gained the ascendancy and hoisted first of many more World Cups. It also signalled a turnaround for a beleaguered Australian side that was repeatedly beaten by England in the previous season.
In 1992, Ian Botham had his final hurrah against his favourite opponent, Australia. Botham, who was past his peak, mixed his pace and swung it at gentle pace, to send Australia tumbling to a defeat. He even crunched an aggressive fifty. ‘Beefy’ always loved to play the Men from Down Under.
Since then, Australia have never lost to England in a World Cup game. Yes, Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel scripted a jailbreak in the 2003 World Cup game, but the harsh truth is England haven’t beaten Australia in World Cups since 1992.
Can Eoin Morgan’s men turn the tables on Australia this time around? England, one of the fancied sides of the tournament, slipped to a surprise loss against Sri Lanka, the other day. So they are also under a bit of pressure in terms of progressing to the semifinals.
It should turn out to be a mouth-watering clash. Jofra and Wood versus Warner and Finch. Cummins and Starc versus England’s aggressive batting unit. England, though, would again miss out on the services of their injured opener, Jason Roy.
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Toss and teams in a while…