England lost the third T20 against New Zealand overnight. It was very much a 5/10 performance – by which I mean that a miserable collapse of five wickets for just ten paltry runs cost us the game. Doh!

It was a bit like watching the Test team in pyjamas. England were cruising at 139-2 off 14.4 overs and only needed 42 off 32 balls with two established batsmen in Vince and Morgan at the crease. But eighteen deliveries later we were 149-7 with all the recognised batsmen back in the hutch.

Unlike when the test team collapses, however, this capitulation came as a bit of a shock. Eoin Morgan’s teams are usually made of sterner stuff, and although one could argue that 6 and 7 in the order is one place too high for the likes of Sam Curran and Lewis Gregory, there was still more than enough batting to get the job done.

As often happens in this kind of scenario the debacle kicked off with a careless shot. This was compounded by a comedy run out (although Sam Billings certainly wasn’t laughing), a couple more poorly executed shorts, and some good bowling by the absolutely rapid Lockie Ferguson. It was all over before you could say “choke”.

However, it’s important to keep this game in perspective. This is really just a development tour, with England’s new management team bedding in and the selectors looking at some fresh faces. Furthermore, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that England were very competitive for most of this game and only threw it away at the death.

So who caught the eye and who might want the Men In Black to arrive at Ed Smith Manor and erase this game from his memory? First let’s discuss the winners.

Although he only bowled a couple of overs, I was really impressed with Matt Parkinson. He didn’t turn the ball much – I imagine he was more concerned with landing the ball in the right areas on debut – but he showed good composure, a feisty temperament, and a great deal of promise.

I particularly like the way that Parkinson gives the ball air and resists the temptation to push it through quickly. He’s actually pretty slow for an international leggie. But then so is Adil Rashid. I don’t see this as a massive problem until its proved otherwise.

It was also exciting to watch Tom Banton’s international debut. Although his innings was very much a cameo, he showed enough in his time at the crease to suggest that England might have unearthed a gem. It’s an unpolished gem at this stage but his potential is intriguing.

Although most observers will point to his first boundary, which was a classical drive through extra cover and very much one of the shots of the day, it was his second boundary that made my eyes pop out of my head like Wile E Coyote. Banton picked up a length ball from Ferguson and deposited it several rows back over cow corner.

Being a purist I’m not easily impressed by slogs but this one was special. The sound it made off young Tom’s bat was mouthwatering and the speed of his hands remarkable. This lad has some style. What’s more, the speedometer showed that the delivery was 147kph (well over 90mph). This must mean that he’s blessed with rare hand-eye coordination.

The only real individual loser from the game was probably Saqib Mahmood. He’s struggled thus far on tour and hasn’t shown either the pace, accuracy, or the variation required at this level. I’ve seen him bowl a lot better (and faster) for Lancs so I’m not sure what’s up.

Finally we come to those who will have mixed feelings on the day’s proceedings – Vince and Dawid Malan. On the surface it looks like both guys enjoyed pretty productive days. Malan made a typically languid yet destructive 55 off 34 balls, and Vince made 49 off 39. However, both of them will be disappointed that they didn’t turn these excellent starts into match-defining innings.

The problem for Malan and Vince is that there’s so much competition for their places. They really need to do something special to win a place in the T20 World Cup squad with the likes of Root, Stokes, and Buttler (who has sometimes opened in this format) set to return.

I feel particularly sorry for Malan. Dawid has an absolutely superb T20 record for England. He’s now made five half-centuries in just eight appearances and has an average of 44 with a strike rate of 147. That’s world class.

Unfortunately, however, Malan always seems to be the first player dropped for someone with a bigger reputation irrespective of how he performs. What’s more, the emergence of Tom Banton now provides even more competition.

It’s interesting that Malan has just left Middlesex to sign a contract with Yorkshire. I bet he wishes he could move national teams too.

James Morgan

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