Fortress Edgbaston gifts England home comforts
It's 18 years since Australia last won at Edgbaston; five since England lost there. But Peter Handscomb insists that 'will make no difference' when the sides meet there in a World Cup semi-final.
England's 10-match winning streak in Birmingham is enhanced further by the fact that five of its top six batsmen for Thursday's semi-final blockbuster have celebrated whirlwind ODI centuries at the ground.
In-form openers Jonny Bairstow (111 off 109) and Jason Roy (112 not-out off 95), No. 3 Joe Root (104 off 78), No. 4 Jos Buttler (129 off 77) and No. 6 Ben Stokes (102 not-out off 109) have all gone big in recent history at the venue.
Conversely, 54-year-old Mark Waugh is the only Australian to have posted an ODI ton at Edgbaston (in 1993), with no current player reaching 80 at the tiny ground.
Root, who Australia identified as England's key wicket before Mitchell Starc knocked him over for eight runs last month, averages a remarkable 66 at Edgbaston.
England captain Eoin Morgan said his team clearly played its best cricket at three grounds - Edgbaston, Trent Bridge and The Oval.
"It's a place we really like playing, so it's comforting we are going to one of those grounds," Morgan said.
Australia's attack looked vulnerable against South Africa on Saturday with Mitchell Starc's first spell (0/26 off three overs) resulting in spinner Nathan Lyon bowling the sixth over.
Pat Cummins has 2/186 (33 overs) from his past four games while Glenn Maxwell has 0/295 for the tournament.
Indian captain Virat Kohli vented his Edgbaston frustration after England extended its winning streak to double digits against his team.
"The toss was vital, especially looking at the boundary that was quite short," Kohli said.
"I think it was 59m, which coincidentally is the minimum amount required in an international match. Quite bizarre on a flat pitch.
"It's crazy that things fall in place like that (for England), randomly. If batsmen are able to reverse sweep you for six on a 59-metre boundary there is not much you can do."
While Australia has not played an ODI at Edgbaston in more than two years, Root said his team picked up key learnings from last week's win against India.
"The surface changed halfway through our 50 overs. We learned how to bowl on it off the back of how we adjusted in that innings," he said.
The English media have been pumping up the fortress factor and were quick to ask Aussie Pete Handscomb about the five-year unbeaten run.
"Cool. I didn't know that stat so…," Handscomb said.
Pressed again, Handscomb said: "Now that I do (know it), it really makes no difference. I mean, they're past games."
While showers are forecast for Thursday, Australia's hopes of surfing into Sunday's final at Lord's courtesy of a washout have gone down the drain.
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The ICC confirmed that "extra time" (120 minutes) plus a reserve day was available for knockout games.
Friday's forecast is now clear, meaning the game could be continued if a result is not reached on Thursday. A minimum of 20 overs per team is required to constitute a match.