Cricket World Cup 2019 final, Australia vs England at Edgbaston, Birmingham – Australia is desperate to set up its second final against New Zealand in as many cricket World Cups, but it must first overcome their oldest enemy on their turf, free-scoring favourites England.
Australia was bowled out for just 223 having won the toss and electing to bat fist.
Smith was promoted to bat at No.3 after Usman Khawaja was ruled out due to injury.
First-drop is where Smith has historically been at his strongest, and Chris Lynn predicted before the match that he will relish in the role again. And he did, topscoring with 85 after Australia lost 3-14 inside seven overs.
“I think he’s just going to come into his own. He loves that accountability to be the match-winner,” Lynn said on Fox Cricket. “He’s been down at four where he’s been a little bit restricted.”
Kerry O’Keeffe expressed some doubts, saying his 12 months away from the game “has hurt him”.
“I don’t think he’s at his best,” he said. “I think his backlift is as big as it’s ever been, I think his reaction time is slower.
“I just think if they (England) get an early pole I just don’t think he’s quite what he was and they will bounce him.”
England did get that early wicket as Australia suffered the worst possible start when opener Aaron Finch was trapped in front by Jofra Archer in the second over for a golden duck. He reviewed the decision, hoping he made contact with his bat first, but ball-tracking showed the ball was going on to hit the top of middle stump.
David Warner (9) was also sent packing in the following over, edging a brilliant seaming delivery from Chris Woakes to first slip.
Peter Handscomb came perilously close to falling for a golden duck to Chris Woakes, surviving England’s lbw review by the tightest of margins.
“Handscomb very lucky to get away with that,” Michael Clarke said of the Australian surviving the lbw review, before touching on Smith’s scratchy start. “Smith just struggling to find any sort of timing.”
Woakes got his man shortly after, bowling him for one.
Alex Carey and Smith breathed life into the innings with a 103-run partnership for the fourth wicket. The former was struck early in his innings by a bouncer by Archer that left him with a deep gash on his jaw that continued to bleed through his innings. He has since been cleared to wicketkeep in the second innings.
Just when the Australians had a reason to be positive again, spinner Adil Rashid snared two wickets inside one over to put them on the ropes again.
Carey (46) was the first to fall in the 28th over, caught on the ropes by sub-fielder James Vince before Marcus Stoinis’ (0) tournament went from bad to worse, trapped in front by Rashid’s wrong-un.
The same could be said for Glenn Maxwell (22) who failed to impress once again, chipping to cover off a well-disguised Archer knuckle ball. Pat Cummins (6) joined him in the sheds three overs later, caught at first slip off Rashid.
Smith was one half of another rebuild, this time with Mitchell Starc who contributed to a 51-run stand. Smith’s dream of a century was cut 15 runs short though when Jos Buttler whipped off his glove and threw down the batsman’s stumps at the non-striker’s end. The ball travelled in between Smith’s legs on the way to the stumps, which were rattled with right-hander mere centimetres short of his crease.
Starc (29) was gone the very next ball, caught behind of Woakes. Jason Behrendorff (1) was the last man to go, clean bowled by Mark Wood.