England Will Have a Lot of Confidence Going Into The Semi-finals
It is a great sign for England that in their last two must-win games they have completely smashed them.
Those doubts that inevitably would have been starting to sneak in will have dissipated and the two performances – the win over India at Edgbaston and then against New Zealand in Durham – will give them a lot of confidence going into a first ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup semi-final since 1992.
The good starts at the top of the order have really helped settle the nerves and that will be key again in the semi-final.
Over the last four years England have made a habit of chasing anything but at the moment the pitches seem to be lending themselves more to batting first and then defending. You get the sense the captains of all four semi-finalists would like to win the toss and bat first.
Across the last two games England have just looked so comfortable putting runs on the board and building scoreboard pressure. In this World Cup, we have seen that it becomes harder to score freely in the second innings of matches and the pressure of a World Cup does funny things.
In 2017 we chased in the semi-final of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup against South Africa, and looked to be cruising at one point. The pressure then crept up and we only just got over the line. I can definitely relate in terms of trying to take the pressure off as much as possible.
It was a slightly different situation for us though. I remember almost feeling more stressed about the semi-final than the final. Nobody really remembers the losing semi-finalists, and in our case the final was at Lord’s and we knew it was a once in a career thing.
The good thing was that we went into the semi-final and then the final with five batters in really good form and that gives you so much confidence when you go out to the middle.
The same is true of this England side. All of the top six have got runs in the tournament already and in different ways.
You just have to look at Ben Stokes, he has shepherded the tail when needed and scored quickly at other times. All the others already have hundreds to their name, so they should be going into the semi-final with a lot of confidence.
It will be important to get off to a good start again to try to absorb the pressure and get into the game as quickly as possible. The players will have to deal with the emotions of a big semi-final.
My guess is that England will try to stick with the team that is doing so well at the moment. Liam Plunkett has done really well when given the chance, and he hasn’t lost a game yet in this World Cup, so they will surely try to play him unless the conditions really call for another spinner.
The advantage Morgan has is that Joe Root is a very useful bowling option with his spin. He has some tricks up his sleeve, and if it is India in the semi-final, then he could be useful against a left-hander like Rishabh Pant if he plays.
© Cricket World 2019