New Zealand vs. England: First T20I Preview

In our latest post celebrating the blog’s third birthday, metatone suggested in the comments that we could put up an “Open Thread” post for England’s T20I and ODI games. Whilst all of the regular writers (and many of our audience) don’t pay as much attention to the shorter formats as Tests, it would allow those sad souls who find T20s “fun” to comment on the site in a thread just for them. As our Dear Leader said just over three years ago, “Let’s see how this one goes.”

England’s tour of Australia has finally come to an end, and it has been a mixed bag. They were dominant in the ODIs, and yet verging on the pathetic in both the Tests and T20Is. The inadequacies in the Test team are laid bare for everyone to see; the bowlers were incapable of taking wickets in challenging conditions and the batsmen were unable to survive the barrage of quality fast bowling and off spin.

The T20I team’s struggles are more puzzling to me. On paper, the squad is a good one. The majority of the players were in the team which took England to the final of the World T20 less than 2 years ago, as well as dominating Australia in the ODIs through January. England are 4-7 in T20Is since the 2016 tournament, compared to 28-7 in ODIs over the same period.

Of course, one thing which these figures demonstrate is that England plays a lot more ODIs than T20Is and perhaps that’s part of the problem. It’s a small sample size, and so maybe it would be wrong to read anything into these results. The T20 format is also more volatile in nature, meaning that a poor team might have more chance of winning than if a similar quality team was playing an 50 over game or Test.

But these issues aside, England’s T20I team does seem to be struggling. The ECB hired Bayliss as a limited overs genius and he has delivered (to an extent) in ODIs. With just over a year to go until the next World Cup, it seems like England are undeniably favourites to win that competition. For the World T20 in 2020 however, I wouldn’t bet on them even reaching the knockouts right now.

So what needs to change? Well there could be a case for a few players being dropped. Since the 2016 World T20, no player in the world has scored more runs than Joe Root at a lower strike rate. Likewise, Eoin Morgan and (surprisingly) Jos Buttler have scored their runs at a relatively sedate strike rate of 120. These scoring rates might be fine if you’re targeting an average score of 150, but I fear that’s not enough in today’s game.

Or perhaps a change in coaching would be enough. The majority of players in England’s current ODI team also played in the disastrous 2015 World Cup campaign. The greatest difference between then and now is the mentality and aggression of the team. They don’t settle for a target of 270, instead trying to put the game out of reach of the opposition. The T20I team appear to be unable to muster the same levels of ruthlessness.

All of which is to say that I’m not hopeful about England’s prospects against New Zealand tomorrow morning. England need to win both remaining games against the co-host to make the final, and nothing they’ve shown in the last two games would suggest they’re capable of that.

As always, comments are welcome below.


58 thoughts on “New Zealand vs. England: First T20I Preview

  1. Miami Dad's 6 Feb 12, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    Tricky to read too much into the sample size, especially considering those 11 matches are probably over 4 or 5 “series”. However I do think you are correct in the mindset thing. Most countries would open with Buttler and tell him to do his thang. We have him at 5 or even 6. Is Root a t20 player? Maybe he is good enough, but has his only actual exposure been in internationals? Doesnt exactly strike me as the peak of the format.


    • Miami Dad's 6 Feb 12, 2018 / 9:41 pm

      Apologies for use of thang over thing. In a discussion on t20 it almost seemed appropriate, but to have it in the very first comment is unedifying.


      • dannycricket Feb 12, 2018 / 10:08 pm

        Apology not accepted. Now sit in the corner and think about what you’ve just done.


  2. Benny Feb 13, 2018 / 12:33 am

    I’m surprised they don’t do better too. Whatever, I’m not getting up at 6.00 to watch


  3. Sri.Grins Feb 13, 2018 / 5:54 am

    I was also surprised to find england struggling especially after they thumped oz.


  4. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 7:46 am

    Ok, so this thread is my fault and no, I didn’t get up to watch play begin. I blame the manflu.


  5. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 7:50 am

    NZ 196-5 – not a great bowling performance by the sound of it.
    Cruelly, it looks like Wood took wickets, but was just a bit too expensive.

    Of course we won’t know until England bat, but my gut says about 170 was par.


  6. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 7:56 am

    Good first over from Roy, after struggling for a few balls to get the pace of the pitch.


  7. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 8:01 am

    On the T20I struggles, a lot of it comes down to a lack of play. Enough of the team are internationals in other formats so they don’t get much practice at this form. Even those who aren’t looked well short of match practice compared to those Aussies who had been in the BBL.


    • dannycricket Feb 13, 2018 / 8:03 am

      In which case, would it be better to pick players not in the Test/ODI teams who do play more T20 cricket? County players, essentially.


      • metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 8:10 am

        Obviously there’s a balance, talent matters. I’d be lying if I said I could identify a lot of players in tonights line up who are obvious drops.

        One can wonder about Malan/Vince I think – and Wood’s T20 record isn’t all that as I remember. I know Tymal didn’t have a good BBL, but he might have been a better pick for the Wood slot. Of course all that said Jordan is a real T20 specialist these days and he still didn’t look that sharp.

        Another thing might be to have a couple of practice matches?


        • metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 8:24 am

          I’d add of course that knowing what we do about Wood’s long-term injury issues, they really ought to be deciding if he’s going to be a Test player and if so, saving him for that.


  8. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 8:04 am

    Odd shot from Roy, feels like he misjudged the pace, but that’s a real blow to England momentum.


    • metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 8:18 am

      Hales turned it into a good start, but now the spinners come…


  9. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 8:27 am

    Munro is also the kind of T20 specialist bowler England don’t have/pick at the moment. Although it is Sodhi (leg spinner) who has taken the vital wicket.


  10. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 8:56 am

    Wickets told, losing Buttler especially. Billings forced to force the pace and falls to the off-spinner.


  11. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 9:08 am

    NZ drops just keeping Eng in the game, but even then, only just.


  12. metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 9:42 am

    So analysing T20 is often a fool’s errand because the game is short enough for one player to turn the whole game, even without much support from team mates.

    However, today’s game was much more normal than that. Both innings were team efforts. England bowled badly at the beginning which set NZ up for a good score and the pressure was always on. Hales and Malan kept England in the game, but needed at least one other batsman to step up. The length of England batting was on good display, with some good aggression, esp. Willey’s quickfire 20, but it was too much to expect the tailenders to do.

    Great illustration of that difference was Willey reaching out and hitting a very wide ball for a single. A batsman (as opposed to bowling allrounder) would have been able to check the shot early enough to let the ball go, get the wide and have another ball to go at.

    I may have more thoughts later, but now I have to go to the dentist.


  13. SHERWICK Feb 13, 2018 / 11:11 am

    Played 3.
    Lost 3.
    If only we had a T20 specialist who has won a T20 World Cup (where he was man of the series) available.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Miami Dad's 6 Feb 13, 2018 / 1:27 pm

    Willey whacks it around opening in the warm up match. Dropped to 9 for the actual matches. I don’t think he is a good enough opener for international cricket, to be honest, but even if he is it is muddled thinking – at best.


    • dannycricket Feb 13, 2018 / 1:40 pm

      I have heard the argument that Willey’s best position in T20 is opening. I don’t see enough T20 to have an opinion of my own on this though.


      • metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 4:12 pm

        I think it’s fair to say that Willey can be a good opener, but not as good as Hales and while I think there are questions to be asked about Roy’s consistency, when he fires he’s definitely better than Willey.

        (Oddly, this is also the situation re: Billings who is one up in the order, Willey isn’t better, but Billings has been frustratingly inconsistent.)

        I think it was a waste to have Willey opening in the warm up.


        • Sophie Feb 14, 2018 / 9:23 am

          Billings gets all the hype, but the only time I’ve seen him score something of note (I haven’t seen him play all that much, mind), he was playing traditional cricket shots, as opposed to trying something ‘innovative’ every ball and then getting out quickly.

          Willey has been very good opening for Yorkshire occasionally. I think twice last year and once the year before. Otherwise he was pretty meh for all I remember.

          Liked by 1 person

          • thebogfather Feb 14, 2018 / 1:06 pm

            It does seem there is mounting confusion by ECB management/selectors in white ball cricket. T20 team lacks enough game time or preparation, our top centrally contracted players play little county or overseas league stuff. As T20 internationals are still an after-thought, even behind 50 overs, then given the above, it’s no wonder teamECB fail to flail… but do we really care? – The NZ stadium was half empty (ECB statement – half full).
            The ongoing split between the 3 versions of the game is what is killing the whole with greed,


  15. KidVicious Feb 13, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    I haven’t watched or followed any of the T20s, but in my opinion it seems as though it comes down to bowling. In ODIs, the deficiencies of the bowling can be made up with the ultra aggressive batting, which as a risky strategy but is paying off. There seems to be far lass margin for error and inadequate bowling gets punished.

    In ODIs, you can also have someone like Rashid who can get wickets at any time, and often set batsman, and he has far more balls in order to do that. The seamers are there to contain as much as they can, which can;t be done in T20 without a lot more variation. And then of course there is the test matches which are further punished for the containing bowling strategy and don’t pick a wicket taker for when conditions are not favorable.


    • metatone Feb 13, 2018 / 4:23 pm

      I’d be up to argue that in both the T20s vs Aus the batsmen underperformed. And I’d at least partially lay that down to inadequate preparation – so I’m looking at the coaches. That said across the 3, Roy has certainly looked out of form.

      The bowlers (to my mind) carry the can for this latest loss – but again I’m looking at the coaching and selection. 4 seamers is one too many for current T20 tactics it seems to me. We need another slow bowler and his name isn’t Dawson.


  16. Sir Peter Feb 13, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    I’d rather watch Stokes going to court – oh look there he is…


    • dannycricket Feb 13, 2018 / 3:18 pm

      Now’s as good a time as any to post our perdiodical reminder to everybody:

      Please don’t post any comments which could be considered prejudicial to the Ben Stokes court case. No speculating on his guilt or innocence, or posting rumours about what happened, or anything else which could get both you and us in trouble.


  17. man in a barrel Feb 13, 2018 / 10:07 pm

    When will someone come along and bowl an overarm half tracker that dribbles towards the stumps?


  18. Sri Grins Feb 14, 2018 / 1:11 am

    First series win in SA. Of course, injuries to faf for most of the series and abd for three but still will take the win.

    Catching is still horrible and there is a giant crater for us after batsman no 3 till no 7 when msd cones in. Msd has also has lost his ability to score fast. Thanks to the top 3 and the bowlers we are winning. Need to fix it fast


    • metatone Feb 14, 2018 / 8:07 am

      Do you think age has finally caught up with MSD? Is it time to think about retirement?


    • metatone Feb 14, 2018 / 8:09 am

      Do you have candidates for 4/5?


  19. Sri.Grins Feb 14, 2018 / 10:31 am

    Yes. I have been watching the IPL since 2007 and you can see that MSD’s skills in T-20 and therefore in ODIs have been dipping slowly. What it effectively means is that his ability to score at more than a run a ball is dwindling and as a finisher , you need nowadays the ability to score much more than a run a ball at the end overs.

    However, he remains as sharp a wicket keeper and strategic advisor ro spinners in LOIs as ever. Just listen to the stump mic recording in the 5th odi put up on cricinfo. This relieves Virat a lot as Virat is not the smartest captain around.

    MSD would have been pushed into retirement despite his keeping and advisory skills if India had a decent batsman keeper. Unfortunately, there are no candidates as of now which is why it looks as if he would play WC 2019 despite being probably worse in finishing skills.

    Given this, it is vital to get a good number 4,5,6. Hardik can do for 6 on flat pitches and one assumes with England also relishing flat pitches, WC 2019 pitches will be flat. Anyway we will know this year when India LOI teams come up against England. Hardik is still a WIP but one assumes given his fielding, decent bowling and aggressive batting, will stay at 6 despite not really being a good finisher currently and one hopes as always that he will improve with experience.

    4 & 5 are very big holes. I can think of no Indian batsman who fits in at 4,5. Jadhav, Iyer, Karthik and Rahane appear misfits. They will fire once in a while but can’t be relied upon for the kind of class exhibited by 1,2,3 who are all matchwinners

    Hopefully, this year’s IPL throws up an answer. Off hand, I can’t think of a worthwhile classy candidate who is a matchwinner in LOIs. I hear a lot of positives about Iyer but frankly performance at international level seems way off so probably over hyped by cheerleading journalists.


    • metatone Feb 15, 2018 / 8:18 am

      I still think Rahane has potential, but I’m not sure what has happened to his mindset.


      • Sri.Grins Feb 15, 2018 / 12:37 pm

        On the other hand, Rahane has never been a success story either in the IPL or in ODIs. I know people love Rahane and thus cribbed when MSD openly criticized him but the reality is that hee is just not good enough. On can have an off year in the IPL. One can score at just over a run a ball on a few occasions or even at less than a run a ball but not consistently be below par.

        His SR is around 79 in ODIs, less than 115 in T20 Internationals and 120 in IPL. Has played more than a 100 matches in IPL and almost hundred in ODIs. Just not good enough unless the ball is doing something or there is pace on offer. Most LOI pitches nowadays are different. He may have been a good LOI player 15 years ago


  20. mdpayne87 Feb 14, 2018 / 4:01 pm

    Extraordinary finish in the WCL division two today. Nepal reaching the World Cup qualifier by one wicket off the last ball with a 51 run partnership. WCL tournaments are just brilliant. Why they aren’t live streamed I don’t know.


  21. ArushaTZ Feb 14, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    England Lions have lost to West Indies A with Mason “8/10” Crane bowling just 12.4 overs in the match on a turning wicket.

    Liked by 1 person

    • dannycricket Feb 14, 2018 / 8:39 pm

      In Mason Crane’s defence, he’s a terrible bowler who shouldn’t be picked in any circumstances…


        • Sophie Feb 15, 2018 / 11:53 am

          Allegedly, he’s given up on red ball cricket, which seems like bad news for Yorkshire.

          Liked by 1 person

    • nonoxcol Feb 15, 2018 / 10:55 am

      F*** the ECB and f*** their media fluffers. I learned of this match only via this website, as my default site (the one beginning with G) has literally NO coverage at all.

      Genuinely, this Crane obsession is the most absurd thing I’ve seen since clinging on to Cook as ODI captain.


      • nonoxcol Feb 15, 2018 / 11:14 am

        Speaking of fluffers, he’s still at it:


  22. Rohan Feb 14, 2018 / 9:47 pm

    Not been here for a while. Not because this place is not great, but because I was completely disillusioned after the test series and, if I am honest, I have not followed any team ECB cricket since the 4-0 result. Funnily enough, however, I have been compelled to watch other teams play on SKY. I really enjoyed India v South Africa and recently been watching NZ.

    Anyway, just wanted to check in and see what was up and thank LCL et al for keeping this great place going and for taking the time to listen to our views behind the scenes, if you know what I mean! Cheers and looking forward to the tests this summer…….

    Liked by 1 person

  23. SteveT Feb 15, 2018 / 11:57 am

    Talking of spinners, looks like ther’ll be one less to choose from , not that they’d have selected him anyway due to non-cricketing reasons.

    Can I also echo Rohan and say a heartfelt thanks to you all at BOC,the quality and quantity of your output never ceases to amaze. Your excellent coverage of this latest ‘difficult winter’ surpasses anything MSM could come up with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Feb 15, 2018 / 12:07 pm

      Poor Mr. Bransgrove! Next thing they’ll let his Hampshire get relegated.


  24. metatone Feb 15, 2018 / 12:49 pm

    I feel a trace of sadness at Rashid’s decision, yet (to me at least) it’s very hard to argue with the logic.

    1) He’s 29 and England aren’t interested in him for Tests, going so far as to pick a total tyro instead. It’s clear when you read the snide work from Scyld Berry in the reporting of this decision that no-one in English cricketing circles is going to fight his corner.

    2) It’s true Swann got his Test debut at a similar age, so 29 isn’t “old” for a spinner, but it isn’t a surprising age for a sportsman to start thinking about the future. Rashid will always live in my mind as a young man of great potential – but the truth is England wasted that potential and he’s getting on and has to think about the bank balance for the future.

    3) He’s had an up and down relationship with the club in recent years. But an extra wrinkle is the way that the sporting needs of Yorkshire have clashed with not only Rashid’s but also England’s interests. Last season Rashid was available for games, but not always picked. Yorkshire chose to (quite logically) invest time in players who would be available for future games, while Rashid would be off with England.

    This creates two problems (beyond any existing personality clash between club and player):

    a) Rashid wasn’t getting enough playing time out of being a Yorkshire player to keep in the groove and fight for his England place.

    b) One suspects Yorkshire factored this into the contract negotiations, meaning the red ball contract may well have been not worth much over this white ball only one…

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Feb 15, 2018 / 12:56 pm

      In fact of course, I don’t know if these paragraphs come from Hoult or Berry, but read them and weep:

      “But having taken 13 wickets in England’s first two Tests in India last winter, Rashid became ever more dispirited and ever more expensive, conceding runs at the unsustainable rate of almost four runs an over.

      If he had had Shane Warne’s head on his shoulders, and his hunter’s instinct, Rashid might have taken almost as many wickets as Warne because he has a fine legbreak and a far better googly.”

      This may be the first time any cricket writer has complimented Rashid’s googly. And indeed, judging by the adoration of Crane, it’s a surprising admission that maybe a googly is a useful thing for a leg spinner.

      Of course, the final insult is the “almost 4 runs an over” – all our bowlers were much better than that in the Ashes, but since they didn’t take enough wickets, it was a useless effort.

      No-one would say Rashid was the finished article (although England have a lot of blame themselves in that) but it’s the persistent inability to use his strengths (wicket taking, esp. against the tail) and hence the endless concentration on what he is not (a defensive, bowling dry bowler) that irks so much.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Rohan Feb 15, 2018 / 6:43 pm

        It just makes me very angry and sad. I agree with all of the comments above regarding Rashid, but it needn’t have been like this. He could have been treated differently by the test setup and his strengths exemplified rather than his weaknesses. Then the complete double standards with Crane, just make me incandescent! For me this is worse than the KP saga and that really got me……


        • nonoxcol Feb 16, 2018 / 11:39 am

          Hold me back, someone….


          • nonoxcol Feb 16, 2018 / 11:39 am

            The thread that follows makes it even worse.


          • LordCanisLupus Feb 16, 2018 / 8:14 pm

            He has been around the group for long enough for them to make a judgement about his bowling and character.

            Drip, drip, drip…..

            Liked by 1 person

          • metatone Feb 16, 2018 / 2:31 pm

            “Just not a Test bowler” ?


          • SteveT Feb 16, 2018 / 3:50 pm

            Just needs to mention bowling too slowly and we’ve got a full house!


          • Sophie Feb 16, 2018 / 3:57 pm

            Don’t worry, he has.


  25. metatone Feb 16, 2018 / 9:32 am

    Personally, I’m not fond of T20 in postage stamp grounds, but Australia looked pretty comfy in chasing down a big total today.


  26. Sri Grins Feb 17, 2018 / 1:36 am

    No 35 for virat. If he continues to play like this for another 7 years will have around 75 tons. Not sure what it says about pitches and bowling as it is difficult to compare so more power to him. Here is hoping he gets to 100 tons in odis


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