ENGLAND have got back on track with two crucial wins against India and New Zealand and what a difference it is to have Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow back at the top of the order.
Bairstow has been magnificent in both games. I did not understand the whole palaver of what went on between him and Vaughany. It is never good to see two ex-Yorkshire players going at it. It used to happen years ago and I hate seeing it.
But Bairstow has responded brilliantly with two hundreds in a row. I was at the game against India and his innings was absolutely magnificent. He struck the ball so well and taking away his two first-ballers in this World Cup, he has been terrific.
Bairstow and Roy are up there with the best opening pair in the competition, although Aaron Finch and David Warner are pushing them close.
As for England and the semi-finals, I cannot see them changing the side now. They have played great cricket and have Joe Root to potentially bowl a bit of off-spin if needed.
Bairstow and Roy are up there with the best opening pair in the competition, although Aaron Finch and David Warner are pushing them close.Darren Gough
For me, it has been a really good move to bring back Liam Plunkett.
It will probably be his last run at it in a World Cup and there was some ‘umming and ahing’ as to whether he would be in the squad.
But he has shown what he does really well in the last two games. When teams are chasing and you have a bowler who can mix the pace up, it is really effective.
Liam is not as quick as he used to be and it is a similar situation to Chris Woakes.
They both have so much experience, but mix up the pace really well and create pressure doing that.
If you are going to try and hit them, you have to got to be sure you pick the pace of the ball. Liam bowls cross-seam balls, wobble balls, slower leg and off-cutters. He is a very clever bowler.
You need those styles as our spinner Adil Rashid has not been at his best so far, although he is doing enough to stay in the team.
Then we have the quicks. I heard someone say the other day: ‘drop Jofra Archer for Moeen Ali’. I have never heard anything so daft in my life. Archer knocks over the top order and gets the best players out.
He has to play and Mark Wood is bowling beautifully. Then there is the mix-up bowlers Woakes and Plunkett, the leg-spin of Rashid and then also Ben Stokes, who has hardly bowled in this World Cup as we have not needed him.
The only concern is Jos Buttler not getting many with the bat. Although I look at it as a positive in that he is due some runs.
I am relieved we have got to the semi-finals as I was a bit concerned. But we have played our best cricket when it was most crucial ahead of the semis.
It looks like it will be India, although it is not all over yet as Australia still have a difficult game against South Africa today.
Some of their players have come to the party of late and it is Imran Tahir’s and JP Duminy’s last game and Faf Du Plessis has been playing quite well and they have a decent attack.
But what two semis we could have? Australia versus New Zealand and England versus India? Absolutely brilliant.
They are the best four teams, really – although New Zealand have been pretty average of late.
If we play India, there were shorter boundaries at Edgbaston last time and it can turn there and it should be a fresh pitch again for the semi-final.
It’s important to bat first if you win the toss against India to get runs on the board and put them under pressure, although Virat Kohli is very good at chasing down normally. He is one of the best in the business at it.
When England win the toss and bat first on a fresher, flat pitch, we are good.
We used the cricketing intelligence I was wanting to see in the last two games. We bowled really cleverly when teams were chasing and set platforms.
When you do that and get to 100-0, it doesn’t half help. The performances in the last two games have showed why we are the number one team in the world. England were excellent.
You almost feel that if England win two more tosses of the coin, that they have every chance of going on to win the World Cup as when they bat first, they are usually very good and set big totals.