England crushes defending champion Australia to reach Cricket World Cup final
Will play New Zealand in final; either team will be a first-time winner
England reached its first Cricket World Cup final in 27 years by trouncing defending champion Australia by eight wickets on Thursday, ensuring there will be a first-time winner of the sport's biggest prize.
Jason Roy smashed three sixes in a row in his box-office knock of 85 off 65 balls, helping England reach its target of 224 in 32.1 overs.
Australia failed to win a World Cup semifinal for the first time in eight attempts, unable to defend a total of 223 that it limped to after being reduced to 14-3 after winning the toss.
England, the tournament host, will play New Zealand in the final at Lord's on Sunday. It will be England's fourth World Cup final, and New Zealand's second — and neither team has won it.
Showing no nerves chasing a competitive but hardly formidable target, the English played the same attacking cricket they have produced over the last four years which has taken them to the top of the one-day international rankings.
Roy and fellow opener Jonny Bairstow put on a century stand in the fourth straight match they have played together, sending Australia's bowlers to all parts of Edgbaston.
Roy struck five sixes — three consecutively off Steve Smith's only over — and nine fours before being given out caught behind down the legside even though he didn't touch the ball.
Bairstow had already been dismissed by then for 34, leaving Eoin Morgan (45) and Joe Root (49) to see England home. Morgan flat-batted a four to make it 226-2 and seal victory with rain arriving over the Birmingham ground. Fireworks greeted the win.
Australia was soundly beaten by its archrival, outplayed in every aspect. The only positive was paceman Mitchell Starc taking one wicket to move to 27 for the tournament, a record for a single edition of the World Cup.
Smith underpinned Australia's innings that was wobbling at 14-3 after 6.1 overs following the loss of captain Aaron Finch to a golden duck off the seventh ball and opener David Warner — the team's top scorer in this tournament with 647 runs — for 9.
The departure of World Cup debutant Peter Handscomb for 4 brought together Smith and Alex Carey, who repaired the early damage with a fourth-wicket stand of 103. Carey soldiered on after being struck on the helmet by a rising delivery from Archer on 4, playing the rest of his innings with his head bandaged and blood spilling from his chin.
Adil Rashid cleaned up Australia's middle order with the wickets of Carey and Marcus Stoinis (0) in the same over and then Pat Cummins.
Smith moved in sight of his century, only to be run out by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler at the non-striker's end as he ran a single.
Australia passed 200 but it wasn't enough keep its winning streak in semifinals going.