Australia peaking at the right time in World Cup: Waugh

Steve Waugh says Australia are ‘gathering confidence and momentum at exactly the right time’ after their comprehensive victory against hosts England guaranteed their place in the World Cup semi-finals.

There were plenty of doubts over the five-time winners’ chances of retaining the trophy before the competition started, but, led by prolific openers Aaron Finch and David Warner, Australia have won six of their seven group games so far.

Australia also looked dangerous with the ball against England on Tuesday, with Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff taking nine wickets between them while recalled off-spinner Nathan Lyon kept the run rate down. ‘Without doubt this was a commanding performance by a team that is gathering confidence and momentum at exactly the right time,’ Waugh wrote in a column for the International Cricket Council.

“The Australian selectors must be congratulated for the bold selection of Jason Behrendorff and the faith they showed in presenting him with the new ball,” added the former captain, who skippered Australia to the World Cup title in 1999.

“His five-wicket hall was not only significant for its impact on the match, but his ability to swing it in conjunction with Mitchell Starc will have put all future batsman on notice that their techniques will be forensically examined.”

Waugh reserved special praise for captain Finch, who scored his 15th one-day international century at Lord’s. “Coming against a quality attack on the biggest stage in world cricket, Finch’s century was his best in the green and gold,” he said.

“He is at the top of his game right now — mentally tough, technically sound, focused and trusting in his judgement of line and length. He is leading the charge and allowing others the freedom to relax and play their own way.”