Australia goes into Saturday night’s (AEST) World Cup match against New Zealand knowing that a win will cement its place at the top of the table ahead of semi-finals.
England got a reprieve on Friday, with Sri Lanka’s insipid showing against South Africa relieving some of the immediate pressure on their fourth place, although they still require wins to stay in the top-four.
On the eve of the clash against across the ditch New Zealand, Mitchell Johnson filmed a video for Direct Hit saying the Australians had been enjoying the tournament so far, and the laid back atmosphere has also been noted by captain Aaron Finch.
Desperate to turn around their on-field image and reclaim rest of the public, Australia have kept out of trouble since the fall out of the ball-tampering saga.
Just over a year after the aggressive Test series in South Africa that led to the ball-tampering scandal, no players in any country have been reported for serious offences at the World Cup, while there have been no obvious on-field stoushes.
Only two – India’s Virat Kohli and West Indian Carlos Brathwaite – have been fined for dissent, while others have received small reprimands for minor incidents.
“I think it has been a great spirit out on the field, regardless of results,” Finch told AAP.
You see a lot of smiles on people’s faces, which is a good sign that the game’s in really good hands at the moment, and that it is being played in the right spirit.
It comes after the 2015 edition featured several flare ups, including Brad Haddin coming under fire for the sends off he gave New Zealand batsmen in the final.
Shane Watson and Pakistani Wahab Riaz were also both fined following a quarter-final clash in 2015, albeit with the ICC criticised for being too hard on the pair.
“I’m not sure if it’s been a conscious effort from individual countries, but it’s certainly felt like a really, really good tournament (in 2019),” Finch said.
“I know the last one was quite an aggressive World Cup on the field, mainly from us.
“We were quite aggressive in our approach and how we went about things.”
BEST OF AUSTRALIA-NEW ZEALAND WORLD CUP MATCHES
WAUGH STEPS UP AT INDORE, 1987 GROUP MATCH
It took Australia and New Zealand 12 years to meet at a World Cup match, but when they did it was a thriller. In a rain-reduced match at Indore, Australia powered its way to 4-199 from their 30 overs courtesy of 87 from David Boon.
The Black Caps looked in the chase at 2-133 and later needed seven off the last over. Steve Waugh stood up, taking wickets on his first two balls and effecting another run out to leave New Zealand three runs short.
AUSSIES PULL OFF RECORD CHASE, 1996 QUARTER-FINAL
Australia pulled off what was at the time its biggest chase in one-day history to knock New Zealand out of the 1996 tournament in Chennai. New Zealand looked safe after 130 from Chris Harris and 89 from Lee Germon lifted them to 9-286.
But that was before Mark Waugh’s heroics under lights. He hit 110 from 112 balls before Steve Waugh (59 from 68) and Stuart Law (42 from 30) finished the job with 2.1 overs to spare.
BLACK CAPS STUN AUSSIES, 1999 GROUP MATCH
Hardly convincing in their tournament-opener against Scotland, Australia needed a win over New Zealand to kick its 1999 campaign into gear.
After Darren Lehmann (76) played a lone hand in their 8-213, Australia looked to have the ascendancy with the Black Caps 4-49 in reply. But from there Roger Twose and Chris Cairns took the game over with a 148-run stand as New Zealand cruised to victory.
WILLIAMSON’S HEROICS SINK AUSSIES, 2015 GROUP MATCH
Who said low-scoring one-day games were dead? Australia and New Zealand played out the best game of the last tournament when Trent Boult took 5-27 to roll Australia for just 151.
New Zealand was cruising at 1-78 and 4-131 when Mitchell Starc twice worked his magic. His 6-28 included the eighth and ninth wicket in consecutive balls with six runs still required.
Kane Williamson wasted no time though, clearing the rope with the first ball of Pat Cummins’ next over and ending the match.
AUSTRALIA CRUISE TO HOME TITLE, 2015 FINAL
The tournament decider had little on their earlier clash, but it was still fitting the two co-hosts met in the final for New Zealand’s first decider. However, by the end of the first over it was clear it wasn’t going to be their day.
Mitchell Starc clean bowled Brendon McCullum to spark an early collapse of 3-39 before New Zealand finished on 183. Australia made light work of the chase, winning with 16.5 overs to spare.