Aussies ready to send a pre-Ashes message to England
CRICKET: Aussie pace spearhead Mitch Starc is ready to send a pre-Ashes warning to the cocky English batsmen when the two teams confront each other in the Champions Trophy on Saturday.
Yesterday morning's wash-out at The Oval has put Australia on a collision course with an early exit unless it can knock off the hosts, and tournament favourites, at Edgbaston.
Starc rocketed back to form after a lacklustre first-up effort against New Zealand, scorching the Bangladesh tail-end with searing pace and accuracy and re-discovering his pinpoint yorker to take four wickets in just nine balls.
Despite his limited preparation after a long recovery from a fractured foot in March, and the stop-start nature of the tournament, Starc said he felt like his best bowling was almost there.
And he could find it in time for the clash against the old enemy, who Starc said had not been backwards in coming forward about their ambitions, and ability, to win the tournament on their home soil.
"For us it's a must-win game. England have that win on the board and they are pretty comfortable with the way they have been playing their cricket," Starc said.
"For us it's to get that win to get through to that next stage ... but also to find some little weak points in some of their players going into the summer as well.
"And our team probably respond to must-win games really well. Guys step up as a group, it brings out the best in us. I think that's something we can call upon.
"England probably expects to win, and they have talked themselves up in the media, so it's nice for us to come in, rip in, know we have to play our best cricket going in to the back end of the tournament."
Starc said there was continued frustration among the bowling brigade about the white Kookaburra ball not swinging in games, as they had expected it would.
Conditions, which have been cold or mild and not warm or humid, have played a role in that.
But the left-armer said he was still happy with the progression of the bowlers through the tournament, and hoped their best was to come.
"We are all a lot happier with where we are, especially Josh (Hazlewood) and I not playing through the IPL period, to get that time out there to get the rhythm back," he said.
"The New Zealand game (at Edgbaston) was my first hit-out for three months, and it was disappointing not to get the warm-up games under my belt with a bit of weather around.
"The New Zealand game wasn't our best performance by any means. But I think the way we responded as a group was very positive. The way we did that (against Bangladesh) was great for us leading into a big game on Saturday. Big positives there."
The Aussies will now travel back to Birmingham and have already been forced to adjust training schedules with more bad weather expected in the Midlands.
But the forecast for Saturday is fine and the clash with England should not be affected.