England can see off Australia with fearless and dynamic cricket

Eoin Morgan is adamant there is one big reason to be confident ahead of Thursday's seismic World Cup semi-final against Australia. The captain has got his England team back.
For a few agonising days in this tournament, it appeared England had forgotten what made them World Cup favourites in the first place.
That was when they crashed to defeat by Australia, hot on the heels of humiliation at the hands of Sri Lanka, and the most crushing of all England's World Cup cock-ups looked on the cards.
Since then England have regained their dynamism and fearless approach to the point where their captain believes they can look the old enemy in the eye at Edgbaston and book their date with destiny against surprise finalists New Zealand on Sunday.
EDGBASTON FACTFILE
Australia (probable):
Warner, Finch (capt), Smith, Wade, Handscomb, Stoinis, Carey (wkt), Cummins, Starc, Behrendorff, Lyon
England (probable):
Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan (capt), Stokes, Buttler (wkt), Woakes, Rashid, Plunkett, Archer, Wood
Umpires:
Kumar Dharmasena (SL) and Marais Erasmus (SA)
TV umpire:
Chris Gaffaney (NZ). 
Match referee
: Ranjan Madugalle (SL)
The pitch:
Edgbaston groundsman Gary Barwell can be sensitive to criticism of his pitches but has no excuse on Thursday not to provide a good one. After little rain, the surface looked a belter on Wednesday.
The weather:
Overnight rain to clear and leave a dry but cloudy morning, though there is a threat of scattered showers in the afternoon. Play can be extended by 75 minutes to get a result on the day but we could come back on Friday to finish it if necessary.
'We are a different team now than we were three or four games ago,' said Morgan. 'Our loss against Sri Lanka hurt us and there was a hangover going into the Australia game.
'But we came here against India and produced something similar to the cricket we've been playing for the last four years and then were better still against New Zealand. That was really encouraging and now we will look to do the same again. Our strength is the way we play and we will stick to that.'
What an opportunity awaits England. What a chance Morgan would have to be the first England captain to lift a 50-over World Cup if they can beat Australia and set up a date against the Kiwis at Lord's.
Morgan cut a relaxed figure at Edgbaston on Wednesday even before New Zealand turned the tournament upside down by beating India.
It was a sharp contrast to when the England captain seemed about to be engulfed by pressure when Australia defeated him at Lord's.
'The group stage took a lot out of us,' he said. 'That was due to the rollercoaster of emotions and performances we had throughout those nine games.
'Looking back, it hasn't worked out too badly. It was in doubt at one point but now we're excited to be here.'
It was Australia's left-armers —the outstanding Mitchell Starc and the less heralded Jason Behrendorff — who did the damage to England with nine wickets between them at Lord's and they will provide the biggest threat again on Thursday.
Morgan's ability to combat Starc and his appetite for the short-ball barrage that is sure to come his way was again on the agenda on Wednesday, thanks to Kevin Pietersen's belief that the England captain was scared of Starc at Lord's.
'When Kevin Pietersen comes out with a comment I address it in the same way I would anything Geoffrey Boycott says,' Morgan told the BBC. 'They are not comments I consider good for the team environment and don't take into account the best interests of the team or the player concerned.
'Guys are trying their heart out to do well for their country and are trying to learn and get better. We have critics being critics. They need to do that, that's the job, so let them be.' Touche.
Rather than worry about Starc, Morgan preferred to remind Australia that England have two bowlers just as fast in Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. And the captain, who was bounced out by Starc at Lord's, needs only to think back for confidence to England's Champions Trophy victory against Australia here in Birmingham two years ago when he scored 87 against an attack that includes the man being thought of as his nemesis.
With pace such a big part of this World Cup, it will be fascinating to see what the captain who wins the toss does on what really should be a flat pitch — in contrast to so many of the slow and highly disappointing surfaces that have been prevalent in this tournament.
Starc has taken only four of his World Cup record-equalling 26 wickets when Australia have bowled first in this tournament. Batting has proved the way to go even for an England side who came into the World Cup confident they could chase anything.
But there could be rain around on Thursday and if it comes down to a reduced second innings then maybe chasing, with the Duckworth-Lewis method potentially coming into play, could be the way to go again. Morgan, who has won his last three tosses, may have a delicate decision to make if he makes it four out of four.
The captain would not rule out a return for Moeen Ali and the two-spinner axis that played such a big part in England's one-day cricket ahead of this tournament but it would be a huge surprise if he came in for Liam Plunkett. England will surely be unchanged.
It is Australia who have selection issues and could hand tournament debuts to both replacement players in their squad. Peter Handscomb, who came in for Shaun Marsh, definitely plays while Matthew Wade, confirmed as Usman Khawaja's stand-in, could be hurried in at the expense of Glenn Maxwell.
England have won their last 10 matches in all formats at Edgbaston while Australia have not won here since 2001.
'There is a reason we have been successful here,' said Morgan. 'The wicket tends to suit us but the support does, too.'
That could be negated by Australia's World Cup pedigree. The five-time winners are playing in their eighth semi-final and have won the previous seven while England have not got anywhere near this stage since Graham Gooch's beaten finalists came so close to winning the 1992 tournament.
The bottom line is England are the best team at this World Cup. India, the next best, crashed out on Wednesday and Morgan has to ensure there is no repeat of the 2015 final between Australia and New Zealand. All England have to do is be themselves.
ENGLAND'S PREVIOUS CRICKET WORLD CUP SEMI-FINALS 
1975 Australia beat England by four wickets
At the inaugural World Cup, only Mike Denness and tail-ender Geoff Arnold reached double figures as Aussie left-armer Gary Gilmour ripped through England's top order with six for 14 to bowl out the hosts for 93. Australia fell to 39 for six in reply, only for Gilmour to see his side home with an unbeaten 28 at No 8.
 
1979 England beat New Zealand by nine runs
A thriller that went to the final over. Graham Gooch and Mike Brearley both struck half-centuries as England recovered from 98 for four to post 221 for eight at Old Trafford. John Wright gave New Zealand impetus, only to be run out for 69 as Mike Hendrick took three wickets. New Zealand needed 14 from the final over but fell short. England lost the final to the West Indies.
 
1983 India beat England by six wickets
Back in the days when ODI innings lasted 60 overs, England nudged and edged their way to 213, with no sixes in the innings. Graeme Fowler's 33 off 59 balls was the pick. India chased it down with ease, with half-centuries from Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil — reaching their target in 54.4 overs.
 
1987 England beat India by 35 runs
In the first tournament not to be held in England, Graham Gooch swept his way to 114 in Mumbai, England reaching 254 for six. Eddie Hemmings took four wickets as India collapsed to 73 for three before losing their last five wickets for 15 to be bowled out for 219. England suffered a seven-run defeat to Australia in the final.
 
1992 England beat South Africa by 19 runs
A new rain rule helped England to victory in a farcical semi-final. Graeme Hick hit 83 as England posted 252 for six at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
South Africa needed 22 runs off 13 balls when the rains came. Two overs were lost but the target was reduced by just one, leaving South Africa needing an impossible 21 from one ball. England went on to lose to Pakistan in the final.
WORDS BY JAMES SHARPE
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