England v New Zealand: ODI series review

Just more of the same old problems really.  A static opening batsman, an over-reliance on what the data says, a determination to reach an adequate score that proved totally inadequate.  Square pegs in round holes, a complete unwillingness to try players who have been successful in the short form of the game in domestic cricket, and an approach that looks frankly terrified throughout. Hang on, that’s not what happened at all is it?  England won the series 3-2 of course, but even if they’d fallen short in the final match, it wouldn’t have mattered in terms of them demonstrating progress.  That they did mattered greatly to the players of course, and the joy and delight on their faces was apparent to all. But what it did highlight was the astonishing change in approach for this series and this series alone.  And it raised lots of questions about how England had played before, how they’d been set up to play before, and the management who were responsible for that. As recently as March, Alastair Cook was berating all and sundry for dropping him as captain for the World Cup, stating that the side needed his leadership and criticising Eoin Morgan for how he had led the side.  This is history of course, so why bring it up again?  Well the trouble is that the most striking thing about the change of approach from England is that it has plainly never occurred to the old guard to do it.  When Cook was whining about his omission, he at no time stated his dissatisfaction with the style of England’s play, merely that they didn’t play very well, and that it would all have been so different had he been there.  A penny for those thoughts seeing England play in such a manner Alastair. As for Morgan himself, there are enough indications now coming out that he was deeply unhappy as captain in the World Cup, specifically because of the strait-jacket in which the team was placed.  Whilst he probably won’t win any awards at the Funky Captaincy Annual Dinner, he is clearly a major influence on the way in which England are now approaching the format. One of the most amazing sights about this England team is that they are so obviously and plainly enjoying themselves thoroughly.  The England teams have looked utterly miserable for a long time, and the most basic pleasure of playing sport seemed to have gone completely.  For this team at least, it is well and truly back. What isn’t known is whether that will spill over into the Test side as well.  Of course, it is an entirely different game, but those players who will return do seem to prefer scowling to smiling, berating team mates to jumping on them.  There’s some sympathy to be held here, grumpy, crotchety older players are hardly especially unusual, and particularly so when there’s frustration and unhappiness.  Yet the contrast between Broad and Anderson on the one hand, and Mark Wood on the other, couldn’t be more obvious.  In the last match, Wood playfully pretended to Mankad one of the New Zealand batsman.  He laughed, the batsman smiled, and so did the umpire.  And yet….Wood had rather made the point there hadn’t he?  Don’t push it with the backing up.  All with humour.  Likewise with his sudden sneaky running in before the batsman was ready.  It kept them on their toes, and was all done with a smile, from a player who looks like a kid at Christmas.  What will be fascinating to see is if Wood’s patent enjoyment rubs off on the others.  Because there’s no doubt at all, a team having fun will play better than if they’re not. Wood’s economy rate of 5.23 across the three matches he played was bettered only by Trent Boult on either side, and in a series which was such a run fest, it proved critical to the outcome.  That Boult was injured dealt a huge blow to New Zealand, without question.  But that’s the game, and few series have gone by without injuries to key players.  Where it does become relevant as far as England are concerned is that when Wood first played in the Tests, there were concerns about whether his action made him an accident waiting to happen.  England then played him in the one day series.  This is a difficult one.  England’s bowling coaches mangled James Anderson thoroughly trying to fix a potential injury crisis before it happened, and since he returned to his natural action, he’s remained more or less constantly fit.  It’s probably best to leave Wood alone, and deal with any issues if and when they arise rather than worrying potentially unnecessarily.  But managing his workload is still sensible.  One of the overriding criticisms of England is that they are extremely poor at doing so.  Grinding Wood into the dirt won’t be easily forgiven if they do it. In terms of the selection for this series, it seems that incoming coach Trevor Bayliss requested a young side and the selectors obliged.  That in itself raises questions about how it was done previously.  On tour it’s said that although the selectors choose the squad, captain and coach select the team.  That means that Adil Rashid’s clear success in this series vindicated the selectors who chose him for the West Indies, but rather hang out to dry then coach Peter Moores and captain Alastair Cook for not picking him.  With the ODI series over and eyes turning towards the beginning of the Ashes, quite why Rashid wasn’t tried – and the justification that he’d not bowled well in the nets – looks more and more an aberration, especially given Mooen Ali’s clear and obvious lack of fitness.  Better late than never perhaps, but it doesn’t mean excusing it. A similar circumstance applies to Alex Hales, albeit concerning his absence from the World Cup until it was too late.  Hales didn’t go on to make the big score he would have craved, but he undoubtedly set the tone with his batting, and others carried it on.  That he was ignored for so long because of a supposed weakness to the ball coming in looks ever more bizarre.  And yet it’s exactly how it is with English sport all too often, a focus on what someone supposedly can’t do rather than promote what they can.  Hales was instrumental to England firing from the very top. Not everything England tried came off.  Jason Roy did ok without every looking like he was going to take the world by storm.  Steven Finn took wickets yet still didn’t look the bowler he was.  And of course the final match yesterday had England 50-5.  And yet none of the shots were especially reckless, they just found fielders through slightly awry execution for the most part.  That’s not something to worry about, it can happen and on this occasion it did happen.  It will also happen again.  The recovery led by Bairstow was outstanding, and they still played in the same manner.   On so many occasions England have said they are learning, yet right now with this side, they really are learning.  Some patience with them when they get it wrong is deserved.  It’s only when they use that as a shield to close down discussion and criticism that it’s a problem, I don’t get the feeling with this side that it is. And so New Zealand come to the close of their tour of England, with just a T20 match to come.  They have been brilliant tourists, and that people have been heard to say we should have them every year says everything about how they have played the game.  As well as playing attacking, exciting cricket as a policy, they have some genuinely fine cricketers.  Kane Williamson looks special, Ross Taylor is a terrific batsman, and the seam attack even beyond Boult and Southee looks potent.  Above all else, they have played it in a wonderful spirit, demonstrating beyond all question that playing the game hard doesn’t have to mean sledging, abusing or provoking opponents.  It’s something England could learn from, as could several teams.  Not shouting at an opponent isn’t giving them an easy ride, and never has been. England go to New Zealand in 2018 as currently scheduled.  There are again only two Tests to be played.  It is possible they will look to amend that, but not very likely.  The last tour down there was praised for being beautifully balanced, with three T20s, three ODIs and three Tests.  So of course they are not going to repeat that.  It would be too much to think that the boards could see a good thing and capitalise on it.  Although some things can change on the field, off it very little does.  And while this post has concentrated on the cricket, it doesn’t mean that the ECB are now forgotten for what they have done, not for a single second.  It might be what they hope for, but the news overnight about telling Sky which commentators they can have remains as symptomatic of their ability to make a bad situation even worse as ever. It’s just that the cricket itself sometimes reminds you why we care. @BlueEarthMngmnt


32 thoughts on “England v New Zealand: ODI series review

  1. man in a barrel Jun 21, 2015 / 9:31 pm

    A great summing – up. Be careful Giles Dmitri is watching you. The spirit of the matches was great but England’s seam attack was like NZ minus Boult. The match awareness is what is lacking with England. Thankfully, Bairstow was around yesterday. D-L got it just about right.

    Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Jun 22, 2015 / 2:35 pm

        There have been rumours
        Of lager consumers
        With bald heads (TFT also blessed)
        Who imbibe with fizzy polish
        Whllst imparting knowledge
        To each other in secret signs
        Imparting a little later to sate ya


      • thebogfather Jun 22, 2015 / 3:13 pm

        Exceptions excused… 🙂
        Except for the lager devouts


  2. Phil Jun 21, 2015 / 9:42 pm

    I for one enjoy this new Fifty50 cricket very much indeed. I love reading BTL comments berating this new approach negitively and about there ‘not being a balance between bat and ball’, and even how the crowd are being short changed! Well I was at the 1st ODI in Birmingham and the crowd loved every minute of it. When I have seen competitions with the bowlers making batting difficult, It’s great to watch on TV with slo-mo’s of Jimmy swinging it through the gate, but you can’t see much from the sidelines. Crowds can see 4’s and 6’s and wickets, so I don’t blame them for liking mega batathons. The guy next to me had been to over 50 England ODI’s and had never seen anything like this, “Bout bloody time!” He kept saying in his thick scouse accent, “Our bowlers are fookin shyte, we got to bat tho fookers out the game, s’only way we goona win.”

    I can’t say I disagreed with him at all, and I dearly hope our ODI side give the Aussies a shock although I worry a bit that the Aussie bowlers are a bit better than New Zealand’s. As for the Test team, welcoming Bell, Ballance, Cook, Broad and Anderson back to the fold doesn’t sound as good as it once might, and apparently the team analyst as back from holiday. Yay!..


    • Zephirine Jun 22, 2015 / 12:16 pm

      Hear hear. I like F50!

      Excellent series review, Mr Elegance. It’s been great to see the enjoyment and humour from the England players and it will be interesting to see how the same players deal with the Australians. We’ve already seen the Joe Root Annoying Smile in action against them… there are more methods of getting under an opponent’s skin than just sledging…


  3. Fred Jun 21, 2015 / 9:58 pm

    That’s it, I’ve crossed the Rubicon. The Guardian used to be the location of good cricket writing and the best cricket chatter, but having read through some posts and comments here today, I feel like I’m amongst friends, who love cricket, and it puts The Guardian in context. The Boycott/Hogg videos were great. Posted by someone who loves and knows about cricket. A real pleasure that someone would take the time to highlight that.
    I read the Guardian and quite often I end up feeling angry. There’s something wrong when I feel angry after reading about cricket, but the problem is not with me, nor with cricket.
    It can be angry here sometimes too. Quite often actually. But that’s understandable, and it’s generally backed up by genuine knowledge and insight, rather than prejudice. I’d say that Outside Cricket has now surpassed The Guardian as being the home of the most intelligent cricket community.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. BoerInAustria Jun 22, 2015 / 4:54 am

    Very good analysis – Thank you.


  5. SimonH Jun 22, 2015 / 8:00 am

    Highlights of Days 2,3 and 5 of the SL v Pakistan Test are now on Youtube. Sanga held a delicious catch to get Misbah near the end of Day Three. Hopefully Day Four will be posted soon.

    From the highlights, Richard Illingworth had a very good game as umpire. Paul Reiffel, on the other hand…..


    • d'Arthez Jun 22, 2015 / 8:47 am

      There is the matter of the contentious call against Mathews on Day 5 …

      But you’re right, can’t say I have been remotely impressed by Reiffel.


  6. jennyah46 Jun 22, 2015 / 8:02 am

    A good summary and an enjoyable read. Nothing to argue 🙂


  7. metatone Jun 22, 2015 / 9:22 am

    Great piece of work.

    Be interested in a post on schedules and managing workloads and injuries… I started on a rambling comment about it, but it didn’t seem to fit.


  8. Mike Jun 22, 2015 / 9:37 am

    Cracking appraisal.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the series.

    There’s much to be encouraged about the England ODI team, they will make some mistakes still clearly, but from a batting point of view the immediate future looks rosey in terms of decent strength in depth. Catching we can work on, but much like the test team, bowling looks light on talent at the minute and I share concerns that we don’t bowl Wood into the ground.

    On NZ, so much to like about them as a team, shame about the injury to Boult and it was great to see Williamson & Taylor bat so well throughout.

    What a win by Pakistan, christ that is going to be a tough tour there. If we come out with anything other than whitewash against, I’ll be impressed.


    • thelegglance Jun 22, 2015 / 10:48 am

      Much as Nick Hoult deserves credit for reporting it in the Telegraph, it was Cricinfo who got the interview – which he says himself in the article.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Jun 22, 2015 / 12:31 pm

        From the Cricinfo version:

        “I started out playing with freedom. I ended up caged. I guess if I was in the current set-up I would thrive, but I had a good record as an opener and they asked me to bat at No. 6.”


        He sounds great, hope he gets the media role he’s looking for – but perhaps the ECB will veto him….


    • Mark Jun 22, 2015 / 11:11 am

      Another player who now confirms what has been claimed by KP and people outside cricket. I look forward to a full apology from Selvey, and Hughes and Pringle any minute now.

      I wonder which clique Strauss was in , The South African or the English one?

      Liked by 2 people

      • metatone Jun 22, 2015 / 12:43 pm

        Cliques. Eng vs SA amplified by the coaches (who thought that was a good idea?)
        Test regulars vs the rest.
        Players threatened with the drop if they wanted to look after their body by choosing to drop a format.
        It’s all there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • amit Jun 22, 2015 / 1:02 pm

        You were not serious about the apology, were you? You are more likely to get Mike Gatting to return a cheese burger 😉


    • amit Jun 22, 2015 / 12:16 pm

      Well, he too will now be labeled as another ungrateful south african and blamed for trying to tarnish the memory of one of the finest times in english cricket history. Some things will not change.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine Jun 22, 2015 / 12:29 pm

        Amit, yes, there’s a comment on Cricinfo saying exactly that.


  9. amit Jun 22, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    Zeph, Didn’t see the article on Cricinfo – read it on Telegraph first. But yeah, anyone who has seen the ECB witch hunt over the last 2 years, would not be surprised if CK was also criticized by the D, EC and the bosses.


    • Zephirine Jun 22, 2015 / 1:20 pm

      This was a BTL comment from some sad person parroting the ECB line… ungrateful mercenaries, better off without them, etc etc..,


    • d'Arthez Jun 22, 2015 / 2:15 pm

      Some people yearn for an England that never existed. Such commentors (on cricinfo, not here) have idiotic notions of “Englishness”.

      It seems that they require all players to be England or Wales born. Both parents holding UK citizenship at minimum then.

      So, say goodbye to Stokes, Ballance. Possibly Moeen (I have no idea how many generations his family has been in the UK), Rashid, Bopara, Panesar (same reason). Say goodbye to the 2005 Ashes. And 2009 Ashes as well. Sorry, Trott is South African born as well. He, just like Kieswetter even represented that country at U-19 level. The 2010/2011 Ashes will have to be replayed. Strauss, Prior, Pietersen, and Trott contributed too heavily to call the result an “England” victory then.

      Erase the history of the 2012 visit to India as well. The drawn series in New Zealand 2013. Sorry, Prior does not get a free pass. Nor does Compton. So what does Cook have to show for his captaincy?

      Say goodbye to the only ICC piece of silverware England has ever won (top 3 were all South African born; Morgan batted at 5).

      Somehow I don’t think anyone but the staunchest UKIP-supporter would be going to that length. Oh, and what are Flower (Zimbabwe), Strauss (South Africa) and Bayliss (Australia) doing in management then??


      • Benny Jun 22, 2015 / 2:46 pm

        Spot on. Much irony here:

        1. Isn’t the top priority that England should win matches?
        2. If the Saffers had been black not white, it’s racism surely
        3. Reminiscent of theold days with Gentlemen and Players

        Liked by 2 people

      • thebogfather Jun 22, 2015 / 3:30 pm

        When cliques clack with such lack of truth viewed
        It only incites derision without vision accrued
        Wherever the clever (or so they may say…)
        Direct us the cursed and cussed, towards their play
        Then all that occurs is the curse of the damned
        Written in blind belief, sounding so hammed
        For every slice of meat they feed
        Another knife cuts, and thus we bleed
        More contempt with each hidden event
        Higher desire to set fire and preempt
        Every line of bull and bluster
        Only increases our collective hatred to muster
        Against the ECB and ICC3
        And all the faux journalism, we, everyday see
        Yet, it makes them wonder still
        Why we view many of them with true ill…?


    • amit Jun 23, 2015 / 10:49 am

      Wow!. Just what happened there? Did the club just refuse a patron from paying for the ticket? Why?


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