NORTH SOUND: England fast bowler Mark Wood believes Australia will play “hard and fair” in their T20 World Cup clash against Scotland in a game which could lead to the defending champions’ elimination.

Australian quick Josh Hazlewood caused a stir when he said “it’s in our best interest” to see bitter rivals England suffer a first round exit.

He even refused to rule out manipulating the system if it helped the Scots make the second round Super Eights rather than England from Group ‘B’.

However, Wood insists their Ashes rivals will not deliberately under-perform when they clash on Saturday in a game which follows England’s meeting against Namibia.

“I think that’s part of being England and Australia, isn’t it?” said Wood. “I think actually I saw it more as a respect thing if I’m honest that he was saying that England have done well against Australia in the recent past and thinks we’re a big threat and a big team so I have no problem with it.”

Australia have already booked their place in the second round with three wins in three games, including a 36-run victory against England.

Scotland are in second place after a no-result with England and wins over Namibia and Oman.

England are two points behind the Scots but with a superior run-rate which will be the tie-breaker if both teams finish level on points.

“I’m absolutely confident Australia will play the game the hardest, that’s the Australian way, that they’ll play hard but fair and try and get the win,” said Wood.

Earlier, Australian pacer Pat Cummins ruled out the prospect of Australia underperforming against Scotland, saying it would be against the “spirit of cricket.”

England coach Matt Mott — an Australian — said he hoped Hazlewood was joking and Australia’s Test and one-day skipper Cummins assured him that the bowler was.

“When you go out and play you’re trying your best every time. And if you’re not, it’s probably against the spirit of cricket,” Cummins told reporters in St Lucia. “I don’t think you can (go into a game not trying to win) -- ever. You’re playing an international game in the middle of a World Cup.

“You still want to try and have a good game and carry that on into the Super Eights. I’ve never stepped on to the field without the mindset of being aggressive, like the guys have so far.”

Cummins said he had spoken to Hazlewood and the comments were tongue-in-cheek and “got taken a bit out of context.”

“We’ll go out there and try to play Scotland, who have had a really good tournament so far, so it’s going to be tough,” he said. “It’s something you discuss as one of the quirks of the set-up, but it does it change the way we play? Absolutely not.”

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2024

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