England v New Zealand, 1st T20, The Oval June 24, 2013

The marathon approaches its end


Match facts

June 25, The Oval
Start time 6.30pm (1730 GMT)

Big Picture

Remember New Zealand's tour of England? Well, it didn't end two weeks ago. Less than 48 hours after England failed to win their first piece of global 50-over silverware by losing a T20 shootout against India, the T20 leg of the New Zealand series will begin at The Oval. The insistent rumble of the Ashes, which got even louder on Monday, means that a squad made up of T20 specialists and assorted young tyros has been assembled, with none of England's senior Test players involved. Oh, except for Kevin Pietersen, who could play in the second game on Thursday.

In Stuart Broad's absence, Eoin Morgan will lead a side likely to contain four of his Champions Trophy team-mates. The T20 team, logically, diverges the furthest from England's Test blueprint and the likes of Michael Lumb, Alex Hales, Luke Wright and Jade Dernbach are regulars in the shortest form but there could still be a debutant or two involved, with call-ups for Yorkshire's hard-hitting middle-order batsman Gary Ballance and the former Ireland seamer Boyd Rankin.

New Zealand won the ODIs against England 2-1, raising expectations, but faltered in the Champions Trophy group stage, albeit that the weather played a big role in two of their games. The squad has been freshened up a little for what will be New Zealand's last international fixtures before a few months off. Back at the start of February, these two teams began their 16-round tussle over two continents with England smashing the ball around Eden Park with record-breaking abandon. Hopefully there will still be some gas in the tank.

Form guide (most recent first)

England WLWWL
New Zealand LWLLW

In the spotlight

Ravi Bopara sneaked into England's Champions Trophy squad and then proceeded to make himself an indispensible member of the team, at a time when many were prepared to write him off as an international nearly man. Bopara appeared to be a central component for England in the build up to the World Twenty20 last year, only to lose form and confidence at a crucial time. His last T20I innings was a single run from six balls in the Super Six defeat to Sri Lanka that sent the holders out but he now has the opportunity to further strengthen his renaissance credentials.

New Zealand rarely seem to be short of nuggety allrounders to hit hard down the order and fill in with a few overs of medium pace. Corey Anderson was brought in as an ODI debutant in the Champions Trophy match against England, many thought precisely because of the threat of rain and a shortened game - he bowled one over at a cost of four runs and then biffed 30 in a revitalising partnership with Kane Williamson. The burly left-hander appears likely to get an opportunity to press his case ahead of James Franklin.

Team news

Apart from Pietersen, who will not be available for the first game, England have named a squad completely devoid of players likely to be involved in the Ashes. Alex Hales has struggled for runs with Nottinghamshire recently, while Jade Dernbach's stock dipped when called into the ODI squad as cover before the Champions Trophy but the low-key nature of this series might be to their advantage. Boyd Rankin and Gary Ballance could both win their first caps for England.

England 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Ben Stokes, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 James Tredwell, 10 Jade Dernbach, 11 Boyd Rankin/Danny Briggs

Hamish Rutherford returns after a few weeks in county cricket with Essex but the majority of the team will be familiar. Tom Latham provided some fireworks in New Zealand's win over Kent on Sunday and could return to the middle-order, with Grant Elliott absent through injury. Ian Butler and Doug Bracewell will vie to deputise for Tim Southee, while Ronnie Hira provides another spin-bowling option.

New Zealand 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Brendon McCullum (capt, wk), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham, 6 Colin Munro, 7 Corey Anderson, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Ian Butler, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan

Pitch and conditions

Scene of England's dominant Champions Trophy semi-final win, a different surface is likely to be used for the T20 but bounce and turn should still figure. The forecast is for a warm evening with some cloud cover, which could help the ball swing.

Stats and trivia

  • England have won seven out of nine T20s against New Zealand. The only previous T20 international played between them in England was a nine-wicket home victory at Old Trafford in 2008.

  • New Zealand have the top two T20 batsmen in the world - Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum - according to the current rankings.

  • Since making a half-century against Worcestershire at the start of May, Alex Hales has score 78 runs in 13 innings, with 11 single-figure scores.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • o on June 25, 2013, 17:25 GMT

    How does Lumb and Derbach keep getting in the side ?

  • pow on June 25, 2013, 15:50 GMT

    these 2 T20s are a lil pointless as eng C vs nz A, this is going to be a one sided series. What they should have done is have eng vs eng lions in a 4 day match live on sky and provide tickets on the cheap for the public. It would be the best pre-ashes match for the eng side and the selectors would be able to see what the backups can do against the full england side!!

  • Owen on June 25, 2013, 15:00 GMT

    From an English perspective, were this the same players that make up the test side, then I would say that yes this series is pointless and even potentially damaging. However, because of the team that has been selected, these games should provide some benefits: a look at how Rankin, Ballance and Stokes perform in England colours, and also a bit of revenue as the games are apparently sold out. As much as I dislike the notion of international T20s, England are approaching them in the only way that makes sense.

  • david on June 25, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    pointless or not if you dont want to watch it, switch over no one is forcing you. Eng and Surrey will be happy with what i would expect a full house of 15000+ or so with most paying between £35 and £50 entry, which is serious money.

  • Christopher on June 25, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    Reading many of the comments, a lot of people have been saying that this series is pointless. I don't think so.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Twenty20 cricket, but what these two games does present is that both sides have a chance to see what players can cut it at international level. England's lineup in particular contains a few players that have been in and out of the side like a jack-in-a-box, so this presents a good chance for all of them to prove to the selectors that they are the real deal.

  • Samuel on June 25, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Yes the series is pointless, but with all the young talent on show, I'm looking forward to it anyway. Be nice to see the likes of Stokes and Ballance and how they perform. A win certainly won't wash away the disappointment of the CT Final on Sunday, but it'd put a bit of a smile back on my face at the very least.

  • Dummy4 on June 25, 2013, 9:35 GMT

    Pointless, Inconsequential match. The English couldn't care less about a couple of T20s before the Ashes, and the Kiwis just want to get back home. Expect empty stadia and whatever crowd turns up probably did so to watch grass grow.

  • ZCF on June 25, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    lyth, root, jaques, gale(c), bairstow(wk), ballance, rashid, [bresnan, sidebottom, brooks, rafiq/patterson/plunkett]

    Jason Gillespie is one lucky fellow! His modesty during early interviews is turning out to be a smart move considering all the fast accumulating and pending plaudits heading his way at the end of his first season. He inherited a young side with, at full strength, is among the best batting orders in world cricket let alone county cricket div one, and it will only get better. Nice mix of experience too with Gale and the underperforming Aussie Phil. Dizzy doesn't have to worry about totals to defend. The only downside is the bowling, and that is the basis on which he must be judged. Injuries aside, his attack has been pathetic where I'm concerned.

    As for Ballance, it seems Zimbabwe's loss is the leeches' gain. All I can say is in future ZC would do well to ONLY select loyal&committed citizens for our U19 WC squads! See if ECB et al will still be attracted to them!!

  • Dummy4 on June 25, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    how much score will be there can u tell me but i think that score will be 170 or above

  • Jordan on June 25, 2013, 7:31 GMT

    agree with Shane Oh.

    The only point of every series, tests, ODI's and t20s included are for points towards world rankings and earning respect.

    For NZ this T20 series is a way to push above 8th and move ahead of australia. And for England it would be a good series to take advantage of to move towards no.1 and become a more all-rounded team.

    For NZ this is also the last chance to impress for a few months. Theres also a few players who will really be needing big games.. Rutherford is really fighting for his ODI and T20 spot, Latham really needs a big match. And even players like Hira, Munro, Anderson and Butler need to show something if they wish to keep their spots or push for a possible ODI call-up.

    For England (as much as England seem to dislike him) Dernbach will be looking for another country call-up. Buttler will need to find some form, and other batsman will be looking to push for "lower order big hitters" in the test team.

    Still HEAPS to play 4

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