England v Australia: Sub-plot offers value
England may have been poor in both the second round and quarter-finals, but stepped up to the plate and showed their class to see off Wales in the semi-finals.
The number one seeds were eventual 5-1 winners over the 2010 runners-up, but it wasn’t quite as comfortable as that scoreline suggests. Phil Taylor lost his opening match against Richie Burnett to make it three singles defeats in a row for the world number one, but a solid performance from Adrian Lewis to beat Mark Webster 4-0 swung the tie back in England’s favour and gave the tournament favourites the impetus they needed to go on and book a place in the final.
Australia, meanwhile, came through their semi-final match against Netherlands by the same convincing scoreline and in just as commanding fashion. Simon Whitlock has been one of the standout players of the week, while Paul Nicholson is a more than capable wingman.
Sky Bet make England their comfortable 4/11 favourites, with the Aussies at 2/1 to claim the title. Given the way that both Lewis and Taylor appeared to grow into their semi-final tie, it’s difficult to oppose them for what has often looked an unlikely triumph in this tournament.
Of course one of the biggest sub-plots to this tie will be the singles match between Nicholson and Taylor. Since The Asset declared war on the 15-time World Champion his record has been quite frankly embarrassing. The Power has now won the last nine meetings between the pair, but the Aussie-Geordie has arguably not had a better chance than this.
Despite a steady improvement in the semis Taylor is still far from his best, and it’s arguable whether his heart is in this one. While Lewis has spoken of the pride and pressure of playing for his country in interviews, Taylor has stood silently alongside him. If Nicholson can't beat him now, he may never do so.
• Netherlands v Australia: The Barney conundrum
• England v Wales: Form horse, odds-against
• Wales v South Africa: End of the road for Springboks
• England on the brink
• Scotland v South Africa: Wright to stamp authority
• England v Canada: Three world champs do battle
• PDC World Cup Betting: Welsh to go one better