World Cup – England eager to strike a pre-Ashes blow by compounding Australia’s mistake

Jason Roy has set the scene for England’s Ashes-flavoured World Cup semi-final, suggesting Australia might be suffering from fragile confidence after their defeat to South Africa.

Jason Roy: Has forged a fine opening partnership with Jonny Bairstow. (Picture: PA)

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The old rivals meet in the final four at Edgbaston on Thursday but would have been kept apart had Australia won their last group game against the Proteas.

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Instead they lost by 10 runs to already eliminated opponents, setting up a mouth-watering knockout clash in Birmingham with their old rivals.

“It should be a great game. I think them losing to South Africa might have knocked their confidence a bit,” said Roy, before acknowledging that England’s loss to Australia in the group stage might help balance the books.

“When you get to the semi-final stage any team you come up against is going to be a tough ask, mentally and physically. They hammered us at Lord’s but who knows what it is going to bring?

“As exciting as it is, we’ve got to stay as relaxed as we can, understanding that it is a World Cup semi-final that doesn’t come around very often and that we’ve been working towards this for years.”

Roy admitted that he feared for his own part in the tournament after tearing a hamstring while fielding against the West Indies, eventually missing three games.

England lost two of those to take them to the brink of elimination but the restoration of Roy’s dominant opening partnership with Jonny Bairstow has culminated in a sharp upturn in fortunes.

The last time England reached a global semi-final, 2017’s Champions Trophy defeat to Pakistan, Roy was dropped for the match after a poor run of form. Now, though, Roy is increasingly hopeful that Thursday’s game is just the latest step in a battle that lasts all summer against the Australians.

“There has been a bit of chat and you can’t avoid it, but playing Test cricket and playing in the Ashes has been an ambition of mine for years,” he said.