All-rounder Ben Stokes is treating England’s World Cup semi-final against Australia today as the most important match of his career.

Cumbrian Stokes is no stranger to the big stage, turning out for his country on 166 occasions in all formats and memorably stepping up to bowl the final over of the World T20 final in 2016.

On that occasion, things didn’t go to plan, with West Indies all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite snatching an unlikely victory, clubbing 28-year-old Stokes for four sixes in a row.

But England’s last-four tie against old rivals Australia at Edgbaston (10.30am start) is a chance for them to reach a World Cup final at Lord’s in pursuit of a trophy they have unsuccessfully been chasing for 44 years.

"Yes, to date. Definitely," said Stokes, from Cockermouth, when asked if this game will be the biggest he has experienced.

"It’s a massive occasion for us as players and as a nation. Playing against Australia is a big occasion - in any sport.

"The rivalry goes way back and we have the Ashes this summer, too. Beating them is that touch better than any other team.

"I’ve had a few days off and got out of the bubble but, when you come back to the team, you get those butterflies again."

England have dominated the last two one-day series against Australia, winning home and away as they established a win-loss record of 10-1 heading into the competition.

That formbook counted for nothing in the group stages, though, with the visitors landing a 64-run win.

"Losing to them at Lord’s was massively disappointing, so I think there will be a bit of redemption for that, knowing we have the chance to beat them and get to that final," Stokes told Sky Sports.

Two of the biggest threats to England will be David Warner - the tournament’s second-leading run-scorer currently, with 638 at an average of 79.75 - and Steve Smith.

The pair are still only a matter of weeks into their comebacks after year-long bans for their role in a ball-tampering scandal and have been on the end of some icy welcomes from the British public in Australia’s encounters.

"I have huge respect for them for performing like they have coming back, being able to block all that out," said Stokes who played with Smith for Rajasthan Royals at this year’s Indian Premier League.

"Respect to them for dealing with on-field pressures and the crowds, while still delivering."

Stokes has also been in fine in the tournament and has scored four fifties.

New Zealand, meanwhile, yesterday beat India by 18 runs to book their place in Sunday’s World Cup final.