The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Eng­land elim­i­nate Aus­tralia to leave Smith speech­less

- By Lawrence Booth

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.’

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