After an exhaustive two-month Ashes series that drained England out completely and an ODI series that has sapped Australia with two games to play, there is another prize to fight for. It is the quarter-final of the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and it promises to be a battle of equals, perhaps for the first time this summer.
It's the genesis of this rivalry that got Ryan Harris, the former Australia fast bowler and Under-19 head coach, to push his body, sometimes on the line - fighting through stress fractures and ankle injuries during the course of a stop-start career in which he played 27 Tests and was part of the Ashes-winning team in 2013. He expects Tuesday's clash to be another exciting one.
"With all that has been going on with the Ashes and with England beating us 3-0 in the one-day series, in the current environment, it is a big game," Harris said. "England v Australia is always a big game. I have prepared these guys to make sure they know they're ready to go. It is World Cup quarter-final, a good opportunity for the boys to experience high-pressure cricket. It does not get much bigger than this from now on."
In trying to be competitive, however, he also cautioned them of letting emotions overrule them. "It's just being better on the day and making sure we execute well, but we have to ensure the guys control their emotions and focus on what they have to do, and that is to play cricket," he said. "We've had a good training session and chat about that to make sure they are ready and how they can channel their emotions. There are a few guys who are going to be nervous; sure there are a few anxious guys too."
The anxiety may not stem from England's familiarity with the conditions, but it's worth making note of nonetheless. Group games against Namibia, Canada and Bangladesh have not been the most competitive, but they will have the advantage of having played all their group games in Queenstown. The nature of those wins means they could slightly be undercooked and are yet to be tested against a quality opposition.
England's captain Harry Brook had a completely different outlook. England looked relaxed. There was plenty of friendly banter, jokes and leg-pulling mixed with the serious during their training session. Coach Jonathan Trott seemed at ease at the helm, taking time off to have one-on-one chats with his batsmen when needed, but ensuring he wasn't always in their line with advice and suggestion.
Brook resonated this mood when asked if they felt the pinch of playing the old rival. "I haven't felt anything different yet but it maybe different on the day. he said. "We just go about our business and try to play the best standard of cricket and we can beat them. The way we have been playing has been outstanding. Opening bowlers have been getting the wickets and the batters have been getting runs. As long as we keep it simple, there is no reason why we cannot beat them. If we bowl well and pick up the wickets, there is no reason why we shouldn't be able to get them out for 150 and knock it off with two or three down."
England have trained on every surface possible at the venue - ranging from green tops to the slightly drier ones. The mornings have been hot, the evenings nippy and rain leading into the game could lend some spice to the pitch. "The coach has been saying that we have been here for a long time, played three games, which should give us a bit of a home advantage," Brook said. "We should know the conditions, where the wind is blowing or how big the ground is. It should make bit of an impact, but that doesn't mean we would do things any differently. We will just play our own game."
In comparison, Australia have been put through a stern test by India in their opener, but blew Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea away. The format's nature - providing equal opportunities to lesser-known Associates - meant the top sides were unlikely to get solid match time.
While England have had the luxury of being based in Queenstown all tournament, Australia arrived on Sunday morning and immediately went through an intense training session. On Monday, they once again followed that drill: focusing on specifics over a four-hour afternoon session.
"We would have liked more guys to have a hit, but that's how the format goes," Harris said of Australia's challenge in the group stages. They bowled Zimbabwe out for 134 before their top order scored the runs in 18.2 overs. They batted first to score 370 against PNG. "It's good they have had time in the middle though. We try to mix up a little bit to see the guys get a hit, they're all pretty well placed going into a big game."
Harris said he'd like to see much more from Max Bryant, who came into the tournament with the reputation of someone who could unsettle new ball bowlers quickly. He wasted two strong starts against India and Zimbabwe and was out for a duck against PNG. "We haven't seen the best of Max, Jack Edwards has been excellent," he said. "He [Bryant] has the power to get us off to a flier. Hopefully he can come off as well, he's due. He's seeing and hitting the ball well. That is why we picked those guys, so that we can get off to explosive starts.
"If the opposition is bowling well, they're able to delay their power hitting and launch later on. We have power there. Jason Sangha at No. 3 is excellent. He reads the game pretty well and controls the tempo of the innings. that's why we've now got the best mix. If we get everything to together, it will take a very, very good side to beat us."