Ashes atmosphere, flashbacks to colour pivotal Cup contest

Aussie skipper Mitch Marsh is expecting a hostile English crowd for the Ashes rivals' crucial T20 World Cup clash in Barbados

Bairstow reflects on stumping ahead of Cup blockbuster

As compelling as it is that Australia and England are meeting at a crucial juncture of a T20 World Cup for the third time in four years, Jonny Bairstow sent a reminder that it is the Ashes combatants' Test encounters that are never far away from the mind.

On the eve of a group stage contest at a Barbados venue Mitch Marsh expects to be as hostile as Bairstow's Headingley home for an Ashes clash, the England batter at the centre of last year's Lord's stumping drama opened up on the incident that has polarised the two countries' fans.

Bairstow insisted he had not seen the 'The Test' documentary that sees Australian players, Marsh among them, recount their amusement at his seething rage in the shared lunch room at the Pat Cummins-initiated dismissal last year.

The 34-year-old Yorkshire-product did, however, stridently declare the incident had a galvanising effect on his team and implied it may have had a destabilising one on his opponents, who lost two of the next three Tests and were fortunate it was not all three.

"I've not seen any of it," Bairstow said of the Prime Video series on Friday. "I've got other things that I watch on TV. I've seen enough cricket. When you're involved in it day-to-day, I don't need to sit and watch it in my hotel room.

Inside the Aussie rooms after Bairstow stumping | The Test

"Post that event, the way in which us as a side reacted to that I think was a real positive. You look at the results after the thing that happened at Lord's, I actually think we finished that series a lot stronger than Australia did.

"The impact it had on us as a Test side was actually a very positive effect. You can make your own assumptions on what impact it had on Australia and their individuals."

The comments add an edge to a match that has more at stake for England than Australia after the team coached by Queenslander Matthew Mott (Bazball architect Brendon McCullum only does the Tests) saw their match against Scotland washed out earlier this week.

Scotland's ensuing win over Namibia means England's qualification chances could come down to net run-rate if they fail to beat the Aussies.

There is irony in the possibility of Nathan Ellis, labelled as a "great guy" and "a lovely fella" by Bairstow having shared a dressing room at IPL side Punjab Kings, being the bowler to make way for the return of Cummins, the man regarded as the Lord's villain by many in the UK.

Cummins, who missed the tournament-opening win over Oman, is certain to be subject to an unfriendly reception if the Bridgetown venue crowd is as pro-England as expected.

"I dare say this will be full and it'll be mostly English fans, so it'll be like playing at Headingley – or anywhere in England where you get sprayed," said Marsh ahead of his first game in charge against England.

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"Just the atmosphere, the vibe of the game, there's always a lot riding on it.

"As a team we always want to challenge ourselves against the best. England have been exceptional in this format for a long period of time now, so there's certainly going to be a lot on the game and we're pumped."

Marsh suggested Mitchell Starc would be good to go after the left-armer was forced from the field during his final over in the 39-run win over Oman.

Starc wore a compression sleeve on his left calf but otherwise showed no ill-effects of the incident at training on match eve as he bowled on a centre strip next to the fresh one prepared for Saturday's (Sunday 3am AEST) match.

"I daresay Patty will come back in," said Marsh. "He's played a lot of cricket, he had a long travel (journey to get to the Caribbean), we wanted to make sure he was cherry ripe for this game.

"Starcy's all good. Just a bit of cramping the other night. There were no unnecessary risks taken. He's fit."

England are considering their own left-arm quick's selection prospects with Reece Topley's record against left-handers a chance to see him preferred over Mark Wood given Australia have two southpaw openers in David Warner and Travis Head.

England thump Australia in dominant T20 display

The clash marks a rematch of the World T20 final won by England at the same Barbados venue in 2010. It was the closest Australia's men's team got to winning that ICC event through its first six editions.

Two players who were there to see Paul Collingwood lift the trophy 14 years ago will feature tomorrow; David Warner remains a staple of Australia's top order in his final World Cup, while his opening counterpart Phil Salt was in the stands as a teenager having spent part of his childhood living on the island.

Although the two teams did not subsequently meet at a T20 World Cup for a decade, their next two contests were pivotal to them teams becoming champions in successive years, albeit in differing ways.

In neither match against England during the 2021 and 2022 events were Australia successful.

Cummins, Starc primed for England World Cup showdown

In 2021, an eight-wicket hammering was the turning point in the title run for the Aaron Finch-led team. Marsh, who was at that stage only just beginning to blossom into the top-order force he has become, was dropped for Ashton Agar so Australia could play five bowlers instead of four.

Committing to the latter, putting faith in allrounders Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell, fired them to the title in Dubai and has been instrumental in their success in both white-ball formats.

In 2022, the Australia-England fixture at the MCG was washed out without a ball bowled, with the tournament hosts unable to make up the necessary net run-rate in their remaining games. They failed to get out of the group stage and England returned to the iconic venue to lift the trophy weeks later.

There is a chance all but one member of the Australian XI preferred through that 2022 tournament (Travis Head has replaced the now retired Finch) will be the one that is named on Saturday.

By comparison, England have had more player turnover – 2022 player of the tournament Sam Curran is no longer a sure pick for starters – yet there's now enough of a shared history to see a different type of rivalry emerge to the one that fires up each nation before the Ashes.

"In a World Cup it's a little bit different," said Marsh. "We play them once. Tomorrow's an important game for us to win and then we move on to our next opponent.

"There's no doubt on the field there's rivalry between Australia and England, it's always an exciting game, it's a great game to be a part of. But, with the one-off vibe, it's today's build up then we move on to the next game."

2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Australia's squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Australia's Group B fixtures

June 6: Beat Oman by 39 runs

June 9: v England, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 3am AEST

June 12: v Namibia, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua, 10.30am AEST

June 16: v Scotland, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 10.30am AEST

Super Eights, finals to follow if Australia qualify

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