I had to laugh when I saw the score in the deciding T20 at Aukland. Of course it was going to end in a tie. The only surprise was that the super over managed to produce a clear winner this time.
One wonders what might’ve happened had the super over ended all square. Would they have bowled another over? Would there have been a boundary count-back? Or would they toss or coin / have a singing contest / determine the match according to the average height of the players’ wives? The possibilities were endless. Ah well.
Nevertheless it was still a brilliant match that went down to the wire. I’m not sure how much we should read into an eleven overs per side contest, as it’s obviously just a bit of a thrash, but it was still great fun.
What’s more, England’s team selection seemed to make it clear that player development rather than the result was the most important thing. The decision to leave out Dawid Malan and Matt Parkinson, who were the two form horses, was rather, how can I say this politely, ‘interesting’.
It was still nice to win though. You don’t travel all the way to Middle Earth to lose a series. Eoin Morgan will be feeling rather pleased with himself and the team. To beat New Zealand despite missing big guns like Archer, Buttler, Root, and Stokes (and Moeen too) speaks volumes. English white ball cricket is in rude health.
The match itself, which was reduced due to Kingdom of Gondor’s poor weather, flashed by at one hundred miles per hour. It was pretty much carnage from start to finish. New Zealand must have thought their 146, which was set up by a blistering opening partnership between Guptill and Munro, would prove sufficient. Seifert also smashed a useful 39 as every one of England’s bowlers suffered.
Fortunately for England, however, Bairstow was in a destructive mood after Chris Silverwood, who is proving quite the man manager, called him a ginger twat pre-match*. I can neither confirm nor deny rumours that the English media have started referring to Jonny as Bruce Banner.
Bairstow’s 47 off 18 balls made New Zealand’s target achievable even though we lost Banton and Vince cheaply. The momentum was sustained by Morgan and Sam Curran cameos. However, with 26 needed from the last two overs, and wickets falling at regular intervals, the Kiwis looked favourites.
The final over, bowled by Jimmy Neesham, turned into a classic. The game looked dead and buried when Chris Jordan strode to the middle for the final three balls. But somehow he managed to smite his first ball for six, his second for two, and then the final delivery for four.
England scored 17 off their super over thanks to some lusty hitting from Morgan and Banner. But there would be no repeat of the world cup final because Chris Jordan bowled a beauty and prevented the Kiwis from getting anywhere near. What a series he’s had.
So what are my overall impressions of this mini-series? It’s been a great development trip and I suspect the selectors and management have learned a great deal about our next generation of players. Everyone contributed at some point, the youngsters have gained some valuable experience, and it’s going to be very tough for England to work out what their best XI is when all the star names return.
One thing I should mention, however, is that bat completely dominated ball throughout. And I’m not sure that’s a particularly good thing. The straight boundaries were particularly short at Aukland – one could say they’re Hobbit sized – so I’m not sure how many watching youngsters will fancy the idea of becoming bowlers.
But I guess that’s modern T20 (or T11) cricket. Let’s just hope the bowlers have more joy in the upcoming Test series. That’s the main event of the tour after all.
* I might have made that bit up
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