Aussies out to maintain streak amid Super Eight temptation

A quirk of the T20 World Cup format means Australia have little to gain from their final Group B clash with England's fate potentially in their hands

Match wrap | Ruthless Australia make quick work of Namibia

Josh Hazlewood admits it could be tempting for Australia to consider delivering a fatal blow to England's T20 World Cup bid by allowing Scotland to boost their net run-rate in his side's final group stage match this weekend. 

But maintaining their ruthless winning form as they head into the Super Eight stage of the tournament, following Wednesday's nine-wicket demolition of Namibia, is key for an Australian side looking to hold all three major men's ICC trophies at the same time.

The Aussies are tipped to rotate their squad for the game against the impressive Scots now qualification to the next stage has been secured, regardless of the ramifications for other teams in the group. 

Hazlewood said there were hypothetical ways an Australian victory could still lead to England's exit by manipulating the margin, but emphasised winning form was invaluable for the undefeated Australians entering the Super Eight stage. 

"Whether you get close and you just knock it around and drag it out, there's a few options there," Hazlewood said today. 

"But as you said, to take confidence from winning and winning well, I think that's almost more important than potentially trying to knock someone else out. 

"(England) have still got a lot to do on their behalf as well, so I think it'll become clearer the closer we get to that sort of stuff." 

The fast bowler said it was "strange" his side will see no benefit from a sky-high net run-rate that presently stands at 3.580 (the biggest number for any team to have played at least three games) in the Super Eights, nor will they go through as the top seed even if they finish first in the group. 

It is that structure that has left Australia with basically nothing to gain from beating Scotland given they secured qualification with their thrashing of Namibia in Antigua. 

A Scotland victory, and potentially a narrow Australia win, in Group B's final match on Saturday evening (Sunday morning AEST) in Saint Lucia, will send England home. 

"In this tournament you potentially come up against England at some stage again and they're probably one of the top few teams on their day," Hazlewood told reporters after Namibia were skittled for just 72. 

"We've had some real struggles against them (England) in T20 cricket. If we can get them out of the tournament, that's in our best interests – as well probably everyone's. It will be interesting to see. 

"Never really been in this position before as a team I don't think. Whether we have a discussion or not and we just try and play it again like we did tonight – that'll be up to other people, not me." 

Australia comfortably handled England in Barbados but had lost six of their previous seven T20s against them and had not beaten them in a T20 World Cup since 2007, including defeat in the final of the 2010 tournament also in the Caribbean. 

Jos Buttler's side were considered one of the tournament's teams to beat given they won the last edition of the event in 2022. 

England's first match against Scotland was a washout, giving their British opponents a crucial point, but their loss to the Aussies means they now need big wins over Oman and Namibia to stand a chance of defending their title. 

Zampa makes Aussie T20 history against Namibia

They will be at a further disadvantage given those games are being played before the Australia-Scotland match, meaning the latter two teams will know precisely what margins will knock England out. 

"It's a little bit strange it (net run rate) doesn't go through the tournament," said Hazlewood. 

"This is the first World Cup I've played that's been set up this way. It's a bit different. 

"The work you do in the round games, if you go through undefeated and have a good net run rate, it doesn't really count for much once you're in the Super Eights. It's a strange one but that's how it is." 

Mitchell Starc missed the Namibia match with calf soreness, giving back-up quick Nathan Ellis a second game for the tournament, but Cameron Green, Ashton Agar and Josh Inglis are yet to feature. 

Green, coming fresh off a strong finish to the Indian Premier League, looked to hit top speed in a pre-match centre-wicket spell on Tuesday and has been striking the ball as well as any of his teammates during recent training sessions. 

Agar may also be required when pitches get tired towards the back-end of the tournament, while wicketkeeper Inglis is a legitimate option to feature as a specialist batter in the right circumstances. 

Ensuring those players are ready to go when Australia embark on playing three games in six days in the Super Eights – and five in 10 if they make it all the way to the final – will be a priority after their cruisy first round schedule. 

"Obviously it's up to the coaches and the captain and the selectors, but I think quite a few of us … might have a rest," said Hazlewood, who missed the recent IPL due to the birth of his first child. 

"I haven't been playing so I'm still keen to get out there and still work on a couple of things, but the guys have been playing IPL, so potentially one or two of those (could miss). 

"But it hasn't been a gruelling schedule. A game every three or four days isn't too tough in T20 cricket. I think it would be up to, almost up to the individual in that regard." 

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: Beat England by 36 runs

June 12: Beat Namibia by nine wickets

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

Super Eight fixtures opponents to be confirmed

21 June: v D2, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua, 10.30am AEST

23 June: v C1, Arnos Vale Ground, St Vincent, 10.30am AEST

25 June: v A1, Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, St Lucia, 12.30am AEST

Semi-finals to follow if Australia qualify

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