World Cup defence built on the most solid foundation
Is there a more reliable opening pair than Aaron Finch and David Warner; what to do with Adam Zampa; why so many run outs? The questions being asked after Australia's win over England.
What we learned from the performance at Lord's …
THE OPENERS ARE AN IMMOVABLE FORCE
Aaron Finch and David Warner have transformed world cricket's most brutal opening partnership into its most unbreakable.
The destructive batsman survived another 22 overs against England's all-out pace as the World Cup favourite discovered what six attacks had already learnt - Finch and Warner won't go easily.
After seven games the Warner-Finch pairing has accumulated stands of 96, 15, 61, 146, 80, 121 and Tuesday night's 123 to put opposition teams on the back foot.
"It's going nicely. It hasn't probably been as quick as people are used to in the past when we've batted a bit of time together," Finch said.
"We assess the conditions as quick as you can and get some messages back to the changerooms so the guys coming in get their head around what they're going to be facing.
"There's no (powerplay) targets in particular - but being no wickets down is crucial. That lays a really good foundation."
Watching Australia's new immovable men under grey skies at Lord's was a crowd littered with celebrities, including Ed Sheeran, Stephen Fry, Michael McIntyre, Edward the Earl of Wessex and Aussie tennis queen Ash Barty.
But headlining Australia's eight-match winning streak leading into the World Cup was Finch and Usman Khawaja, with that pairing averaging 91.8 runs.
It's simply been more of the same since, with Finch and Warner rolling on Australia's build-before-you bash game style that it believes will counter England's go-for-broke when it matters most.
The Finch-Warner union is averaging 91.7 at a run-rate of 5.6 with the Australian openers laying more foundations than AV Jennings.
As the ball darted around early, Finch and Warner were tested but not ejected as they survived close shaves. All the energy was with England, but all the fortune was with Finch and Warner. Then, when Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood started to drop the ball short, they hooked and pulled with grateful glee for boundaries as they raised yet another hefty opening stand.
Last summer it looked like Finch was batting with a toothpick as his form became a public talking point and a private concern for coach Justin Langer, who concerned moving on his mighty leader. Now it is as if Finch's bat is as thick as a railway sleeper.
ENGLAND'S FIELDING HAS SLIPPED
In chilly conditions it wasn't only the Aussies putting the heat on England.
The home team's fielding was the stuff of schoolboys. A straightforward stumping on Khawaja was missed by butter-gloved Jos Buttler and many other blunders relived the pressure the quicks were desperately trying to build.
WHO IS THE THIRD MAN?
Can three Aussie greats really be wrong?
on Tuesday night former captains Michael Clarke and Mark Taylor joined Shane Warne in declaring that Steve Smith must bat at No. 3 for Australia, as he did at the 2015 World Cup. Instead it is Usman Khawaja, who, according to coach Justin Langer, is assured of a place in the team because of his credits in 2019. But they were racked up as an opener and there's no way he's breaking up the Finch-Warner combination.
So what do the Aussies do? Stick with Khawaja at No. 3 and Smith at No. 4, albeit with those two positions interchangeable depending on left-right combinations, or lock Smith into No.3. "It was a no-brainer to pick Ussie. He had more runs (entering the World Cup) than anyone in world cricket this year," Langer said. "He is adaptable. He has come in in different situations. He has played beautifully."
WHERE TO FOR ZAMPA?
ADAM Zampa has now missed selection in three out of Australia's past four games, bumped for Nathan Lyon against England. Lyon bowled well against England in the warm-up game and took a tidy 0/43 (nine overs) today. Dual World Cup spinner Brad Hogg thought after the Bangladesh game that Zampa bowled so well he was safe. But even he agreed Lyon was the right call today - with his "extra bounce on a juicy wicket".
AUSTRALIA CAUGHT SHORT AGAIN
MARCUS Stoinis started slowly and then ran himself out, the sixth Aussie to be caught short in seven games. That's more than double the run-out dismissals of any other team.
As for Stoinis, he bagged Buttler's wicket and shortly after grabbed that sore side.
Is he over that side strain? The Aussies could still have an injury concern on their hands.