Head coach Trevor Bayliss suspects his England side feel they have “a point to prove” in the knockout stages of the World Cup after near misses at the last two international tournaments.
A heart-breaking last-over defeat to the West Indies saw them finish runners-up at the World Twenty20 in India three years ago, while they faltered against Pakistan at the semi-final stage of the Champions Trophy in 2017.
England’s current squad have qualified for the last four of the World Cup for the first time since 1992 and will take on either India or Australia at Edgbaston next Thursday with a place in the Lord’s showpiece at stake.
Seven of the current squad played in both their previous disappointments, with another three – Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood – taking the field in one.
England have effectively been in ‘must win’ mode for the past week, seeing off India and New Zealand to guarantee their spot in the last four, and Bayliss likes what he has seen.
“You will have to ask the players but they probably think they have a point to prove,” he said.
We have to be able to produce what we have done in the last two games in the semi-final so the fact these have been more or less quarter-finals should serve us well.
“Semi-final and final cricket is a different level again but as long as these guys about their processes right in their mental approach then we give ourselves a good chance.
“All I can ask is we play good cricket because we know if we play good cricket the opposition will have to play extremely well to beat us.”
Bayliss is well known for his inscrutable style, often reacting to success and defeat in an even manner.
Yet even he admits that the lethargic defeat to an unfancied Sri Lanka side – a result that seems an age ago in tournament terms but which happened just a fortnight ago – left him concerned.
What followed was a team meeting, during which the squad reconnected with the values that saw them enter the tournament as the most feared one-day side in the world.
“We completely went away from how we had been playing the game for the previous four years. I thought we tried to just survive and bat for 50 overs and that kept Sri Lanka in the match,” he said.
“We were able to have a chat and regroup before two very important games and the way the players have been able to adjust after those losses has been fantastic.
“Everyone spoke, including the younger players in the group, and they were very honest about how they were feeling and what they thought they had to do to crack it. These last two matches we have got back to our normal approach.”
Having ensured they will play the second semi-final, which takes place 48 hours after the first at Old Trafford, England have opted to offer their players some down time.
They have been given the weekend to themselves to freshen minds and bodies, with Bayliss revealing there were a handful of minor fitness issues that would benefit from the break.
“Some of the boys have niggles but every other team will be the same. We are just happy to be where we are,” he said.
“We will have a chat with everyone and see how they feel. I am sure one or two will want to have a hit over the weekend. Where or how they do that we will work that out but we will have two or three good days working before the game.”