England face Australia in the battle of champions

Australia

Australia vs England
June 8, Bridgetown, 1pm local, 6pm GMT, 10.30pm IST

Big picture – Defending champions under the pump (again)

The first truly heavyweight clash of this expanded T20 World Cup format comes freighted with both history and subplots. A rematch of the 2010 World T20 final at Kensington Oval, the match pits Jos Buttler’s defending champions – who are aiming to become the first team to retain the trophy – against the Australian winning machine, victors at the 2021 edition and current world title-holders in Test and ODI cricket. And that’s before you throw in the Ashes for afters.
Already there is added pressure on England, after the rain in Bridgetown led to a share of the points in their opener against Scotland (and that having conceded 90 runs from 10 overs without taking a wicket in a tepid bowling display). Lose to their oldest rivals and it will leave their Super 8 prospects open to being waylaid by the perils of net run-rate calculations, or worse.
The Scotland match was the third abandonment in five suffered by England, after a rain-affected home series against Pakistan, which has clearly hampered their readiness for this campaign after almost six months without playing T20 together. It does not take much for a side to click in this format – and England looked in decent shape when they did get on the field against Pakistan – but Buttler will be anxious for things to go their way on Saturday, if only to avoid further questions referencing the team’s disastrous ODI World Cup defence last year.
Australia, under the laidback leadership of Mitchell Marsh, would love nothing more than to add to the English sense of jeopardy – having helped bundle them out of the tournament in India on the way to taking the crown. Their head-to-head record is less impressive in T20, however, with England having won six of the last seven completed encounters, as well as that 2010 final.
Despite a wobble with the bat, Australia avoided mishap against Oman earlier in the week, the experience of David Warner and Marcus Stoinis shining through in difficult batting conditions. Surfaces in the Caribbean – not to mention those for games staged in the USA – have already had teams scratching their heads; rather than the “slug-fest” England had prepared for, following a high-scoring tour of the Caribbean in December, it looks as if boxing smart may be the way to go.
Speaking of Warner, this could be the last time he faces up against England in national colours – and another match-winning contribution would likely reduce the chances of them meeting again in the knockouts. On the other side of the card is Jofra Archer, fresh off an emotional maiden outing at Kensington Oval and ready to take on Australia for the first time in any format since 2020. Can Mark Wood fire up England’s campaign, as he did during last summer’s Ashes? Will Pat Cummins be back to harass the old enemy once again? Seconds out, it’s almost time to rumble.

Australia WWWWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
England WWLWW

In the spotlight – Glenn Maxwell and Jos Buttler

Since smashing 120 not out from 55 balls against West Indies in February, Glenn Maxwell has been on a truly shocking run. In 14 T20 innings for Australia and Royal Challengers Bengaluru, he has scored 115 at an average of 8.21, with five ducks – his last two knocks have each lasted just one ball. His recent T20I record against England is no better, with five single-figure scores in six dating back to 2020. But who would bet against him finding his touch before long?
Jos Buttler led England to their second T20 title in his first major assignment after taking the reins from Eoin Morgan in the summer of 2022, but things have not gone quite so smoothly since then. Questions mounted about England’s leadership – for both Buttler and the coach, Matthew Mott – after their early exit at the 50-over World Cup, and Buttler has seemed increasingly tetchy when addressing the team’s failures. His recent form has been good, but England need a win.

Team news – Cummins back, but who sits out?

Cummins is set to return after being rested for the Oman game, which saw Mitchell Starc leave the field with cramp. Starc is understood to be fine and could keep his place – which would likely see Nathan Ellis miss out. Marsh is still not fit to bowl, with Australia likely to continue with the allrounder combination of Stoinis and Maxwell to give them cover.

Australia (probable XI): 1 David Warner, 2 Travis Head, 3 Mitchell Marsh (capt), 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Josh Inglis (wk), 7 Tim David, 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Nathan Ellis/Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood

The one change England may consider is Reece Topley coming in for Wood, with the expectation that there will be some rotation among the seamers through the course of the tournament.

England (probable XI): 1 Phil Salt, 2 Jos Buttler (capt & wk), 3 Will Jacks, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Jofra Archer, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Reece Topley/Mark Wood

Four World Cup fixtures at Kensington Oval have produced markedly different results for batting: at one extreme, the tie between Oman and Namibia produced totals of 109 all out and 109 for 6; at the other, Scotland’s charge to 90 for 0 from 10 overs between the showers against England. No team has scored more than Australia’s 164 for 5 against Oman, however. This fixture, a day game, will be played on a new surface, said to be the best one on the square – though a slightly patchy forecast could give the teams another thing to contend with.

“A win is a win, it doesn’t derail us either way. We know we’ve got to win more games than we lose in tournament cricket. A win puts you in a position in the group which is obviously more favourable, but the other two games that we’ve got post this are must-win games anyway.”
Win or lose, Jonny Bairstow is embracing that winning feeling

“I daresay this will be full and it’ll be mostly English fans, so it’ll be like playing at Headingley all over, or anywhere in England where you get sprayed. But the atmosphere, the vibe of the game, there’s always a lot riding on it. As a team we always want to challenge ourselves against the best. England have been exceptional in this format for a long period of time now, so there’s certainly going to be a lot on the game and we’re pumped.”
Mitchell Marsh is braced for an Ashes-style reception from England’s travelling fans

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