opinion

JUSTIN LANGER: Make no mistake, anytime Australia meet England on a cricket field, it’s more than a game

Justin Langer
The Nightly
3 Min Read
England and Australia will renew hostilities.
England and Australia will renew hostilities. Credit: Supplied

Bodyline, Botham in 1981, Bairstow’s stumping, Bradman’s duck in his last innings, Warney’s ball of the century.

Just five unforgettable moments which all form part of the rich tapestry making up the rivalry between Australia and England on the cricket field.

Tonight, Australia play England in the group stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. While this is not an Ashes contest, be assured the intensity will be high.

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I’m not suggesting we will see another historic moment like the five mentioned above, but two players in the England team could cause us some grief.

While they have talent in their batting, England’s chief strength lies in two bowlers, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.

Archer’s career has stalled significantly since his mercurial rise to stardom five years ago.

Injures have frustrated him and cricket lovers globally. In contrast, his absence has helped relieve the stress of many batsmen around the world.

He is quick. Actually, he is ‘quick, quick’ as we say in the industry, which by definition means he bowls at a pace which defies physics. And scares the life out of his opponents.

England have the advantage of two ‘quick, quick’ quicks.

Wood is the other who bowls at a pace that makes the best of the best look rushed.

The Australians will have to be sharp and ready when Archer and Wood get going, especially on this Barbados pitch which looked two-paced and uneven in their first outing last Wednesday night.

The other twist in the tale is that England must win tonight, or their chances of retaining the title of T20 champions that they won at the MCG two years ago will be teetering on a tightrope.

A rain-affected game and shared points against Scotland means they have little room for failure.

Australia won their first game against Oman as expected this week, but they respect that every game in a World Cup is important. Especially when it comes to beating their greatest rival.

On paper both teams are strong, and they have history of success in big tournaments.

Jofra Archer.
Jofra Archer. Credit: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

In Barbados tonight, the past counts for nothing.

Australia’s strength lies in their experience and wealth of all-rounder talent. This allows them to bat deep, which adds assurance and context to their strategy of going hard from ball one.

Travis Head, David Warner, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell play with fearless freedom up front, knowing Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade and Tim David bat through to number seven.

This combination is daunting for any opponent, and confidence-boosting for the Australians.

With Mitchell Starc in IPL-winning form, Pat Cummins a superstar, Hazelwood a banker and Adam Zampa a wizard with the ball, Australia are the favourites for this tournament. Something would have to go very wrong for them not to be in the final in a couple of weeks’ time.

Every time Australia and England meet, history, rivalry, points, and bragging rights are on the line. Tonight, will be no different.

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