Graeme Swann: England will be different animals this time against Australia

Joe Root
Graeme is expecting Joe Root to deliver on the big stage at Edgbaston
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Australia ran out easy victors when these two met in the group stages but Graeme Swann is confident we'll see a different England in the semi-final showdown at Edgbaston...

"Nathan is prone to this kind of bluster so pay no attention. When a player says the pressure is on the opposition, it's a sure sign their own team are feeling the pressure."

Fortress Edgbaston

England will be delighted to be going back to Edgbaston to play their World Cup semi-final against Australia on Thursday. England beat India there less than a fortnight ago and Eoin Morgan's team have such an excellent record at the Birmingham ground that it has become their fortress.

In a big pressure semi-final, every factor in your favour gives you a mental boost and that's definitely true of Edgbaston. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow batted brilliantly there against India and will feel confident that they can produce match-winning scores again.

Group stage defeat won't play on England's minds

Of course, England lost to Australia in the group stage. But that was at Lord's, England were without Roy and the little pussycat team that took to the field against the Aussies that day are long gone. They have been replaced by different, more clinical, animals.

I was not surprised to see Australia lose their final group stage match to South Africa. The Proteas are a much better team than the majority of their performances at the World Cup showed. You could say the opposite of the Aussies. They are not a great side, are by no means unbeatable, and have reached this stage with everything going their way - the toss, decisions and luck.

As soon as their luck abandoned them against South Africa, the Aussies were shown up. England will take nothing for granted on Thursday but they will be far happier to be facing Australia than India at this stage.

Nice try Nathan but the pressure is on Australia

Nathan Lyon - 1280.jpg

Nathan Lyon has said England are the team 'under pressure' going into this one and that his side will relish their underdog status. Come off it, Nathan. I'm no psychologist but I think that's the most blatant panic call I've ever heard. Nathan is prone to this kind of bluster so pay no attention. When a player says the pressure is on the opposition, it's a sure sign their own team are feeling the pressure.

Mitchell Starc aggravated his ankle against South Africa but I'd be surprised if he misses this one through injury. He's taken 26 wickets at this World Cup, four of which came against England at Lord's. I can't look past Starc for top Australia wicket taker on Thursday.

As for the batsmen, David Warner smashed 122 of 117 balls against South Africa while fellow opener Aaron Finch endured a rare off day. I expect Finch to bounce back at Edgbaston and, as he's hit already hit a century against England once in this tournament, he's my bet to be Australia's top run scorer.

England can sweep Aussies aside en Root to final

As for the line-ups, I'd want to put Moeen Ali in the team. Then again I always want Moeen in and can't see that happening this time. England will stick with the team that has played the last two matches. This 11 can win the World Cup so it makes sense to leave them as they are.

England's other spinner, Adil Rashid, is my bet for top wicket taker on Thursday. This Aussie side do not play spin well and, if their middle order is desperate to score runs, the Yorkshire man can take advantage.

Joe Root only scored eight against the Aussies at Lord's and his dismissal was a huge blow. But great players turn up for the big occasions and Root is a great player. He will be determined to play a big innings at Edgbaston, so I'm going to back him to be our top run scorer.

My prediction is that England will win this one to set up a mouth-watering Cricket World Cup final against India.

Cric-o-nomics: What do the stats say?

Ed Hawkins returns with his two-year top bowl and bat study to pick out the semi-final value...

Still Stoked

Ben Stokes already has one top-bat effort this tournament against Australia. He’s 17/2 for another, which is chunky in the extreme considering on two-year data he should be more like 4/1. At 15/2, Jos Buttler is the price he should be. No other England batsman is an attractive price.

Archer missing target

Jofra Archer continues to let down his backers. It’s one win in 11. Liam Plunkett is the one that catches the eye. The Surrey man is 7/2 but has real odds of 13/5. Adil Rashid has for a long time been poor value. He wins at a rate of 7% but he does have ten ties over the study period.

Hands-up

The big mover in the top Australia bat market is Peter Handscomb. He might not play but he’s no 6/1 chance on two-year data. He cops with the regularity of a 3/1 shot. Before you get too excited, though, Handscomb doesn’t qualify for the full 20-game study. And all of his top-bat efforts were in games without 11/4 favourite David Warner. We rate Warner at 85/40. Aaron Finch’s price is out by 0.3%.

Starc doesn’t pass test

Starc is the top wicket-taker in the tournament but that doesn’t translate to a top Aussie bowler bet at 9/4. He’s bang on 10/3 on his record. No other Aussie bowler is a ‘wrong’ price, either so it’s a market we have to swerve.

Graeme Swann,

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