England’s Test captain Joe Root says he is focused on the task in hand as England prepare for their semi-final clash against Australia at Edgbaston.
The encounter, on Thursday 11 July, sees the two rivals lock horns with a World Cup final spot at stake.
An England win might not only be crucial on the pitch but also off it. It follows news that the World Cup final would be on Free to Air if England made the final.
However, in the lead-up to the contest, Australian spinner Nathan Lyon has suggested that the pressure is on England.
“It’s their World Cup to lose, if you ask me. We have nothing to lose, we only have stuff to gain. I think they are full of world-class players, they’ve been the number one team now for a couple of years. They should be going into this World Cup as favourites. It’s all on them.”
This follows a history of mental battles, as well as technical ones, when it comes to England v Australia contests. However, Root appears to be taking little notice of Lyon’s suggestion that this is England’s World Cup to lose.
“Nathan has a lot to say a lot of the time, so for me you just take it with a pinch of salt. It might be a way of taking pressure off himself and his team. We know what we need to do to perform well. If that clicks, we will be a force to play against.”
Root, 28, is the sixth highest run-scorer of the World Cup this year, scoring two hundreds and three fifties in his nine innings leading up to the semi-final.
“I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else, but it doesn’t [bother] me. It is what it is. That is what they want to do to get themselves ready and we will focus on ourselves.
England will be hoping that they can continue their recent good form against Australia in ODIs at Edgbaston. The Australians are winless in their last six matches against England at the venue, last winning in 1993.
Meanwhile, Australia, the most successful side in World Cup history with five titles, go into Thursday’s encounter with a selection dilemma over their batting.
Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh have already both had their World Cup campaigns cut short. Meanwhile, there are doubts over whether Marcus Stoinis can play any further part in the tournament. So far, Peter Handscomb is the only official replacement to have been confirmed.
Whilst Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade have been called away from the Australia A side as injury cover they are not currently an official part of the World Cup squad.
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