LONDON (Reuters) – Bowling will be decisive when Australia meet England at the Cricket World Cup on Tuesday and the reigning champions should consider giving spinner Nathan Lyon a runout at some point in the round-robin stage, former captain Allan Border has said.
Australia currently top the standings from New Zealand with England in third place after the hosts lost by 20 runs to Sri Lanka on Friday, undone by some brilliant pace bowling from the evergreen Lasith Malinga.
Border, who helped Australia to victory over England in the 1987 final, said Aaron Finch’s side were building nicely and he could not wait for the resumption of cricket’s oldest international rivalry at Lord’s in midweek.
“Rivalries run deep and bragging rights are up for grabs ahead of the semi-finals,” Border told ICC media.
“It’s going to be a good assessment for both teams in terms of where they’re at. England are playing this gung-ho form of cricket and are red-hot favourites.
“The game will be won and lost in the bowling. If Australia can hold their ground against the onslaught and put pressure back on England, that’ll be key.
“Both sides have potential to post big scores, so whoever takes those opportunities will win.“
In left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc, Australia have the joint highest wicket-taker in the tournament but Border felt off-spinner Lyon, the only unused player in the squad, might give the five-times champions an extra edge.
“The full 100-over performance hasn’t been there quite yet, and I’ve just got a little voice at the back of my head saying ‘try Nathan Lyon in a couple of these games,’” he added.
“He’s a wicket-taker and knows how to get people out. Test bowling is obviously different, but Lyon is a good attacking bowler and gets lots of revs on the ball.
“The mindset of players now is to really attack the opposition spinner, and it can go two ways, but the other side of the coin is that to win this tournament you’re probably going to need to have more of an attacking mindset so that you can limit the opposition.”
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa got the nod ahead of Lyon in the matches against India, when he went 0-50 in six overs, and Bangladesh, when he conceded 68 runs for his solitary wicket.
(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)