England face Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday with a place in the World Cup final at stake.
Here, PA Sport examines the key talking points ahead of the second World Cup semi-final.
Morgan urges England to live the dream
Captain Eoin Morgan cranked up England’s feel-good factor on Wednesday, urging his players to remember quite what a World Cup semi-final means. Morgan called on his squad not to lose sight of the fact they are “living your dream”, while also insisting England are back to their best. The pre-tournament favourites ground their way to the knockout stages courtesy of two late victories over India and New Zealand, and that after losses to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia. Morgan also insisted England are a team transformed from that 64-run loss to Australia at Lord’s in the group stages. The skipper knows his side must now back up those words when battle commences on Thursday.
Australia play down Maxwell training absence
Big-hitting batsman Glenn Maxwell sat out Australia’s training session on Wednesday, their final run-through ahead of that semi-final with England. Captain Aaron Finch scotched suggestions that meant Maxwell would not feature against England however. First Finch insisted Wednesday’s training session was optional, a point Australia have stressed about certain sessions at different intervals through the tournament. Then Finch backed Maxwell to be back in the runs and quickly, after a patchy run of form in the tournament so far.
Will the right fans make it to the right match
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been contacting all ticket holders in the last 48 hours, urging them to put any now unwanted tickets on the World Cup’s official resale platform. The tournament chiefs hope anyone now not using their ticket will take advantage of the service, where so far some 70,000 punters have sold on tickets during the competition. Australia’s loss to South Africa in the final group game led to a last-minute switch of the semi-final line-ups, leaving many fans scrambling to swap tickets and end up at the right match. The ICC has been at pains to remind ticket holders how to use the resale platform and is confident on Thursday’s crowd.
What about the pitch
Tournament bosses insist they have not made any orders over pitches other than for ground staff to prepare the best possible surfaces. The pre-competition expectations of firm, fast batting tracks have simply not materialised however, markedly altering tactics in the middle. Gone have been the massive scores, replaced instead by enthralling, tight run chases and a fine contest between bat and ball. Should the same materialise again in Birmingham on Thursday, both sides could have to toil for runs.