Old enemies Australia and England renew hostilities in the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup at Edgbaston on Thursday - read Richard Mann's in-depth betting preview here.
- Watch: Eoin Morgan on England's hopes
- Watch: Richard Mann's semi-final preview
- New Zealand beat India in semi-final thriller
- Cricket World Cup fixtures, results & standings
As if by fate, in an Ashes summer, the stars have aligned to ensure Australia and England will do battle at Edgbaston on Thursday for a place in Sunday's Cricket World Cup final at Lord's.
England began as pre-tournament favourites following a dominant last two years in white-ball cricket that included a 5-0 drubbing over Australia on these shores last summer.
However, it has been far from plain sailing so far and defeats to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia meant England needed to beat India and New Zealand just to ensure their qualification for the last four.
In contrast, Australia arrived in England under the radar despite a recent upturn in their One-Day International fortunes and following a slugging start, they have found some real momentum to finish second in the group standings, though Ricky Ponting's claim that they have been 'the standout team' in the competition is open to a high degree of debate.
The return of Steve Smith and David Warner has proven a huge boost to Australia's batting line-up, the latter having amassed 638 runs at an average of 79.75 in the tournament already, and with Aaron Finch and Alex Carey also averaging above 50, runs shouldn't be an issue.
Mitchell Starc - 26 wickets and counting - continues to lead the bowling attack with pace upfront and a deadly yorker at the death and Nathan Lyon's belated inclusion has finally given captain Aaron Finch a world-class spinner to work with.
Given they thumped England by 64 runs when the sides met in the group stages at Lord's, there is certainly a case for arguing that Australia are too big around 6/5 but England are the right favourites, particularly with Jason Roy now fully fit and Chris Woakes finding his groove again with the new ball.
England's house looks in much better order with Roy back at the top of the order and with Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes all enjoying strong tournaments with the bat, England, like Australia, will be happy with where they are at heading into such a huge match.
The pace and strike strike prowess of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood means that England also have all angles covered with the ball and it is hard to escape the feeling that these are two evenly-matched sides who could easily produce a classic.
England's superior power and depth with the bat just gives them the edge but I have no interest in backing them at 8/11 given their recent inconsistency and a couple of bets appeal more elsewhere.
Following Warner's impressive run of form, it is no surprise to see him head the betting for top Australia batsman but he ought to face a stern examination from England's new-ball attack and I'm happy to take a chance on Matthew Wade at 6/1.
Wade has yet to fulfil his potential in international cricket but he has always been held in the highest regard by the Australian management and his decision to leave Victoria for Tasmania has proved a brilliant one, seeing the left-hander produce some of the best cricket of his career.
Wade has taken that form back into Australian colours and has enjoyed a prolific run of form on the A-team's tour of England which coincides with the current World Cup.
Wade's four innings in England so far have yielded scores of 117, 155, 41 and 42 and it's no surprise to see him elevated to the main squad following untimely injuries to Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh.
Peter Handscomb is also in the mix to bat at number four on Thursday but I have the strong feeling that head-coach Justin Langer will be won over by Wade's impressive recent numbers and he looks worth a small play with stakes refunded should he not make the starting XI.
With England's strong pace attack capable of claiming early Australian wickets, Wade could be well placed in the middle order to capitalise and the same can be said for Stokes and Jos Buttler in the same market for England.
Stokes top scored with a classy 89 when the sides met at Lord's a few weeks ago after Australia's left-arm pacemen, Starc and Jason Behrendorff, had made early inroads with the new ball, and a similar scenario could well play out again.
Stokes and Buttler are no strangers to making significant contributions from number five and six but the former is enjoying the better tournament so far - 381 runs at 54.42 - and at two points bigger than than Buttler, he has to be the play at 10/1.
Posted at 1610 BST on 09/07/19.
England's semi-final record
Cricket World Cup 1975 - semi-final v Australia, Headingley, Leeds
England reached the semi-finals in the first edition of the Cricket World Cup but were defeated by Australia. In what is still the best World Cup performance to date by a bowler, Gary Gilmour took six for 14 with England bowled out for 93 after having fallen to 37 for seven. Australia also fell to 39 for six before Gilmour hit 28 runs from 28 balls to seal a four-wicket victory.
Cricket World Cup 1979 - semi-final v New Zealand, Old Trafford, Manchester
New Zealand elected to bowl after winning the toss and England quickly fell to 38 for two. However, 53 from Mike Brearley and 71 from Graham Gooch lifted England's innings with the final score reaching 221. New Zealand's John Wright hit 69 but the loss of wickets hampered their efforts. After failing to hit the required 14 runs in the final over, England went on to play the West Indies in the final but lost by 92 runs.
Cricket World Cup 1983 - semi-final v India, Old Trafford, Manchester
England won the toss and elected to bat but restrictive Indian bowling led them to be bowled out for 213. In response, India's Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil made half-centuries as they reached their target in 54.4 overs, winning by six wickets and subjecting England to another semi-final defeat.
ICC Champions Trophy 2004 - semi-final v Australia, Edgbaston, Birmingham
England faced Australia in their first Champions Trophy semi-final and elected to bowl. Darren Gough took three for 48 as Australia reached 259 for nine. England's Michael Vaughan hit 86 in reply as the target was reached after 46.3 overs with England notching 262 for four. The West Indies awaited in the final but England went on to lose by two wickets.
ICC Champions Trophy 2009 - semi-final v Australia, SuperSport Park, Centurion, South Africa
After defeat in the 2004 semi-final, Australia claimed revenge over their rivals. Tim Bresnan hit an impressive 80 but England were all out for 257. The Aussies made their victory look easy, losing only one wicket as they reached their target with Shane Watson hitting 136 not out. Australia went on to beat New Zealand by six wickets in the final.
ICC World Twenty20 2010 - semi-final v Sri Lanka, Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia
The third edition of the World Twenty20 tournament took place 10 months after the second due to the cancellation of the Champions Trophy in 2008. Sri Lanka were all out for 128 as Stuart Broad took two for 21. After a score of 42 from Kevin Pietersen, England reached their target in 16 overs leaving them to face Australia in the final. After another fine Pietersen performance, linking up for an 111-run partnership with Paul Collingwood, England claimed their first International Cricket Council world championship.
ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - semi-final v South Africa, The Oval, London
England elected to bowl after winning the toss and James Tredwell took an impressive three for 19 in seven overs as South Africa were bowled out for 175. Jonathan Trott's 82 was the top score for England as they reached their target - losing only three wickets in the process. They went on to face India in the final at Edgbaston but narrowly lost by five runs.
ICC World Twenty20 2016 - semi-final v New Zealand, Feroz Shah Kolta, Delhi
England won the toss and elected to bowl with New Zealand reaching 153 for eight from their 20 overs. England replied as Jason Roy scored the second-fastest half-century for an English player in a World Twenty20 match as he reached the landmark off 26 balls. The target was met after 17.1 overs as England progressed to the final where they were narrowly beaten by the West Indies.
ICC Champions Trophy 2017 - semi-final v Pakistan, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
After qualifying for the semi-finals by winning their first two group games, England faced Pakistan in Cardiff. Joe Root hit 46 as Hasan Ali took three for 35 with England reaching 211 before they were bowled out. Pakistan lost only two wickets as they reached their target in 37.1 overs after Azhar Ali finished with 76. They went on to beat rivals India by 180 runs in the final.