The Scottish Mail on Sunday
England eliminate Australia to leave Smith speechless
STEVE SMITH might not have realised it when he called England’s one-day cricket ‘predictable’ on the eve of this game, but there can be little quibbling now.
A brilliant counter-attacking hundred from Ben Stokes, who put on 159 with Eoin Morgan, not only condemned Smith’s Australians to an early flight home from the Champions Trophy, it completed England’s 11th victory out of 12.
Two more wins, starting with the semi-final in Cardiff on Wednesday against either Pakistan or Sri Lanka, and Morgan’s men can celebrate their first global 50-over trophy. Their predictability may yet become the envy of the world.
For the time being, England — whose place in the last four was already assured — should just enjoy the frisson of eliminating Australia in an Ashes year.
And if bad weather meant their win had to be confirmed by the DLS charts, they were a comfortable 40 runs ahead of the rate.
To compound Smith’s misery, it all meant a place in the last four for Bangladesh, who would have been knocked out by Australia on Monday had rain at The Oval held off for four more overs.
On Friday, the Bangladeshis upset New Zealand. This is turning into quite a tournament.
And this was quite a match. When a first shower stopped play after six overs of their reply, England were teetering at 35 for three, including a secondball dismissal for the out-ofform Jason Roy.
But a 40-minute delay allowed them to gather their thoughts. Morgan, who had been dropped down the leg side on 12 by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade before the break, drove Mitchell Starc’s first two balls through the off side, and England never looked back.
As the boundaries flowed, a crowd of 24,227 — a record for a one-day international at Edgbaston — found its voice.
It was the scenario Australia had dreaded. They have played England here three times in this competition, and lost the lot.
Morgan said: ‘This is a tournament you need to be at your best to win games of cricket and we were close to it.’