England v Australia
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Roy out for England
England have been dealt a blow with the news that Jason Roy is going to have to wait for his return to fitness. There are even doubts that he will return at all for the tournament with his hamstring tear responding slowly to treatment.
Roy's absence could explain England's “lack of intensity”, according to Jos Buttler, with the bat against Sri Lanka.
Certainly his vim and vigour gives them a bullish confidence. James Vince, although easy on the eye, is just not as potentially destructive. Roy has three tons against the Aussies in the last two years so the loss could be felt even more keenly.
Against the Lankans, England appeared to lack nerve. A second loss – against a rag-tag bunch, too – in the competition does significantly more harm to their aura than their qualification hopes. One win should be enough and it is hard to see them losing four in a row.
They look wounded, though. Jonny Bairstow looks a shadow of the player he was before the tournament, Chris Woakes is expensive with the ball and Adil Rashid looks to be struggling for rhythm because of a shoulder niggle. We don't expect any changes to their XI, however.
Aussies on the march
With England wobbling and India unconvincing against Afghanistan, Australia are suddenly looking like probable winners. They still have issues but their solid batting and excellent bowling unit are growing in confidence and momentum.
And that's what tournament sport is all about. While other teams are beginning to flounder, the Aussies are finding their feet after (understatement alert) a difficult two years. The resurgence of David Warner and Mitchell Starc banishes any doubts that noses could be put out of joint by the immediate return to the team.
Of course, they are hardly the finished article. They don't score their runs quickly enough. Against India that was exposed and they were, ultimately, outclassed. Their collapse against Pakistan and failure to blast their way to 400 against Sri Lanka also further exposed a significant weakness.
The key for them is to have a flexible batting order. If Warner and Finch set the platform, Steve Smith should not bat at No 3. The likes of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey all need to be shunted up the order.
Got to go big
Here are the last 15 first-innings scores at Lord (1/2 denotes game won by side batting first or second): 322-1/308-1/153-2/328-1/251-1/309-1/300-1/227-2/220-2/272-2/280-1/246-2/265-1/277-1/235-2. As you can see there is a trend – the side batting first is going to have to at least post 280. England got bundled out for 153 against South Africa in 2017 as they failed to cope with seam and swing and there is a chance there could be early movement at HQ. Still, Pakistan had little issue against South Africa. We would be surprised that 320 is not busted by whoever bats first. There is little threat of rain.
Side with Aussies
Do we want to be betting odds-on shots who have had their bowling attack razed by Pakistan and their nerves shredded by a Sri Lanka team who left a crop of their best players at home? Nope, didn't think so.
The opportunity to bet England in the region of [1.80] in this tournament could be few and far between. That doesn't mean we should blindly rush in. Of course England are a good team and they remain on course for glory but Australia present a stiff challenge here.
There is a sense that the Aussies remain under the radar and are playing with more freedom. England are still playing attacking cricket but their smarts have been a little off. We're happy to wager Australia at [2.24].
Warner a man of the match play
As explained in Cric-o-nomics (live later today), Buttler has moved into the value zone and he is worth following for top England bat. We're not convinced by Vince or Bairstow and Starc will be keen to get among them. An early rebuild could be on the cards, then. Although the likes of Joe Root and Eoin Morgan are the wrong prices in terms of how often they win, it would not be a surprise if they led the charge.
Man of the match is a possible play considering Warner's superb form. The top tournament runscorer is 11/1 with Sportsbook for the gong. In terms of form it's arguable that it's value. Statistically, he should be much shorter because he wins 14% of the time.