England rivalry extra motivation in Aussies’ semi push

Scott Bailey |

Pat Cummins has declared Australia’s rivalry with England can act to spur on his players, as their arch-rivals’ World Cup defence teeters towards being the worst in history.

Australia can all but lock in a World Cup semi-final spot in Saturday’s game against England in Ahmedabad, and drive a final nail into the coffin of England’s horror tournament.

Cummins insisted in Friday’s pre-match press conference his team had moved on from the dramas of this year’s successful defence of the Ashes, and that the World Cup was a new tournament.

But as much as both teams have repeatedly tried to consign the ugly Ashes scenes from Lord’s to history, it is evident some feelings still linger from the match.

England famously locked Australia out of post-series drinks at The Oval, before later claiming it had been a simple misunderstanding.

And the “spirit of cricket” debate has routinely been brought up since Jonny Bairstow’s Lord’s stumping, with both sides having more to say about its aftermath in the months since.

Ben Stokes is bowled out at the World Cup.
England have looked a shadow of the side Ben Stokes guided to World Cup glory in 2019.

Up to eight Australians from the Lord’s Test will feature in Saturday’s ODI, with Bairstow headlining a list of up to five English players.

“That was a couple of months ago. It’s done. It’s a new game, new tournament,” Cummins said. 

“But I always think that a healthy amount of rivalry is good. 

“Especially with our playing group, we’re quite a chilled, calm group. So sometimes when we get a little bit more fired up, I actually don’t think it’s too bad a thing.”

Cummins’ comments come after Joe Root admitted there was “no better motivator” for England than hampering Australia’s World Cup progress.

An Australian victory would also end any slight mathematical chance of England reaching the finals, after they won only one of their first six games.

Cummins said he was surprised by England’s woes, with the team ranking last and needing wins in their final three games to avoid this being the worst World Cup defence in history.

England’s campaign has included shock losses to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, reports of a split in the camp, and the real chance they will fail to qualify for the 2025 Champions’ Trophy.

Pat Cummins.
Pat Cummins says Australia’s rivalry with the old enemy will help “fire up” his side.

“Winning helps our chances to get into the semi so that’s probably the overarching feeling for this one,” Cummins said. 

“It’s been an old rivalry so yeah, you’re not going to lie, if they beat us, I know it’s probably just that little bit sweeter (for them) than beating other teams. 

“And the same (for us). 

“With their history of how well they’ve done in white-ball cricket and the rivalry, it would be a great win.”

Cummins also suggested he would support increasing the sizes of squads from 15, with Australia without Mitch Marsh for personal reasons and Glenn Maxwell with concussion after falling off a golf cart.

It means Marnus Labuschagne is expected to hold his spot with Marcus Stoinis and Cameron Green set to come in.

“It’s not like you can poach players from other countries, so I always kind of think as many players as you need, you should be able to pick from,” Cummins said.