LONDON: Jason Behrendorff had only ever visited England on holiday before the World Cup and the hosts would rather it had stayed that way after the Australian’s five-wicket haul at Lord’s on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old left arm fast bowler meant business from the moment he took the new ball and dismissed James Vince for nought with the second delivery of the innings.
The old enemies England, pre-tournament favourites, were beaten comprehensively in front of their home ‘Barmy Army’ of fans by 64 runs as Australia cantered into the semi-finals.
Australia have gone on to win the World Cup every time they have reached the last four and will be well-fancied for a sixth title.
Behrendorff had made his World Cup debut against Sri Lanka at The Oval only 10 days earlier, claiming his first wicket of the tournament, and took the place of Nathan Coulter-Nile at the home of cricket.
It was an opportunity that, in a career punctuated by injury, might never have come but the new ball specialist repaid the selectors’ faith in spades with three wickets for 16 runs from his last three overs.
“Some days, especially during all the rehab periods, you think ‘Am I going to get back? Am I going to be able to get out there, play for my country?” he told reporters.
“It’s one of those things you dream of as a kid, to play cricket for Australia and then to come here and play at Lord’s, my first time here… my first game here, something special,” he added.
Before Tuesday, Behrendorff has taken only eight wickets in his seven previous one-day internationals.
He and the more glamorous left-armer Mitchell Starc proved a lethal pairing, taking nine wickets between them.
“It’s something I’ll treasure for sure,” he said of his afternoon. “You don’t play cricket for the accolades but to play at Lord’s and then to take five today was really special.
“Sometimes you play three right-armers so why can’t we play two lefties? Mitch and I do different roles throughout the team so it’s really good we can play together today.”
Australia, first to bat, had made a conscious effort to pitch up and try and hit the stumps as much as possible in the early overs after observing England failing to do so.
Taking three quick wickets in the first 10 overs validated that thinking.
“We’re still searching to try and play a perfect game but we’re slowly getting better and better each time and today was another really good result for us,” he said.
Despite that, Behrendorff said England were probably still the tournament favourites even if Australia were confident they could win it.
“As a bowling team, whenever you get off to a good start you get your foot on the throat and you don’t want to let it off. We really want to play aggressive cricket and set the tone up front.
“Momentum’s a huge thing in tournament play.”