New Zealand v England, World Cup 2015, Group A, Wellington February 19, 2015

Another match, another host to overcome for England


Match facts

February 20, 2015
Start time 14.00 local (01.00 GMT)

Play 04:12
Trott: NZ on current form have all bases covered

Big Picture

If England thought life would be any easier once they left Melbourne, they had best think again. The Westpac Stadium - The Cake Tin, as it is known to locals - may not have the capacity of the MCG, but 33,000 passionate New Zealand supporters will ensure the atmosphere remains just as hostile.

In drawing both World Cup hosts in their opening two matches, England were presented with a tough start to the tournament. Whether their fragile self-confidence has recovered from the mauling in Melbourne remains to be seen but, if it hasn't, the problem will only be compounded by a New Zealand side with the skill, the belief and the support to make it their year.

The difference in mentality between the teams is illustrated by their aims. While England talk of trying to qualify for the quarter-final and then taking it from there, New Zealand are trying to win with a good net run rate to ensure they qualify as high as possible in the group.

While New Zealand have named their XI - the same team that won their first two matches - England fielded a side at the MCG that had never appeared together before and are keeping their options open ahead of this match.

While New Zealand know that, with two wins behind them already, another victory will give them a foot in the quarter-finals, England will know that if they lose they have no room for error left in the competition. Lose a game against an Associate side, or even to rain, and they could be facing an embarrassingly early exit.

And while New Zealand look experienced, hungry and well balanced, England look uncertain of their team, their tactics or their ability to win such games. Most of all, they look reliant for experience on a small group of players not all of whom are in the best of form.

But while New Zealand are the strong favourites going into the game, the teams are actually level on 104 points in the ICC ranking table.

New Zealand, though, have two batsmen in the top 10 of the ratings (Kane Williamson at six and Ross Taylor at eight), while England have only one in the top 20 (Joe Root at 15). And England have three bowlers in the top 20 of the ODI rankings (James Anderson at four, Steven Finn at 12 and James Tredwell, who is unlikely to play, at 17), while New Zealand's highest rated is Kyle Mills, who is unlikely to play, at 20. Trent Boult, who looked so dangerous against Scotland, is down at No. 56.

It might also encourage England to recall that the last time they played an ODI series in New Zealand - in early 2013 - they won 2-1.

Form guide

New Zealand: WWWWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)

In the spotlight

England have had troubles against the left-arm quicks of one host nation - the Mitchells, Johnson and Starc - in the lead-up to this World Cup, and in their second game they will be confronted with a New Zealand version of that annoyance. Trent Boult swings the ball later and to a greater degree than Johnson or Starc, and the deliveries he used to get two in two against Scotland's top order would have threatened far more experienced batsmen. But while England's right-handers will keep their eyes peeled for the one that darts in from Boult, they will be equally tested by the deliveries that slant away from them.

It seems that for England, the form of the captain - whoever it might be - is destined to remain the talking point. The fact is, Eoin Morgan - or Eoin Rogers as the mayor of Wellington referred to him - has scored two runs in his last five innings in all cricket and passed five only once in his last eight ODI innings. It is not a sustainable run of form.

Team news

New Zealand have confirmed they will play the same XI that defeated Sri Lanka and Scotland. While there might have been a temptation to rotate the squad - this will be their third game in seven days - McCullum pronounced himself happy with a side that offered aggression at the top of the order, "craft players at No. 3, 4 and 5" with "power" to follow. They also have a well-balanced attack offering swing, pace and left and right-arm variety. The only argument for change might have been to give some of the support players a game in case they are needed at a latter stage of the tournament.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Brendon McCullum (capt), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Grant Elliott, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult.

Having shaken up their settled XI at the last moment before the Australia match, nothing can be taken for granted this time. But it seems unlikely England will make another change. Gary Ballance adds some solidity to the batting and, though they miss the option offered by Ravi Bopara's all-round skills, Joe Root can contribute a few overs if required. Alex Hales has impressed the management in the nets and Chris Jordan enjoyed a prolonged spell with the ball and the bat in practice, but it is hard to see a way in for either of them at present.

England (probable) 1 Ian Bell, 2 Moeen Ali, 3 Gary Ballance, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 James Taylor, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Steven Finn, 11 James Anderson.

Pitch and conditions

While McCullum suggested the drop-in pitch would be full of runs, recent scores at the ground paint a less clear picture. Pakistan were bowled out for 210 about three weeks ago while, a couple of days earlier, Sri Lanka made 287 and then bowled New Zealand out for 253.

Only five times has a team exceeded 300 on this ground and only once has it occurred since the end of 2005. In both recent games the ball appeared to hold up just a little. It may well not be the batting paradise some people are predicting.

The weather is excellent, though strong winds are always likely in Wellington - even in the enclosed stadium - which can make life hard for fielders and bowlers.

Stats and trivia


"Tough times don't last, but tough blokes do. He's a champion player. He's one of my better mates from around the world in terms of cricket."
Brendon McCullum on his "champion" friend Eoin Morgan

"We got criticised greatly in 2014 for not being proactive enough in the first ten overs. So now it's a bit ironic to hear we have to calm down."
England's batting coach, Mark Ramprakash, defends the team against accusations of recklessness in the first 10 overs

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rakesh on February 20, 2015, 6:09 GMT

    @sunny - ur moeen lived upto expectation. Guess he needs a wrist band to perform well.

  • Steve-o. on February 20, 2015, 4:18 GMT

    Sl slider and pras punter, no doubt you will will be crying with fear at the thought of playing the mighty black caps. Watch and learn boys watch and learn.

  • sam on February 20, 2015, 0:40 GMT

    Lets face the facts.After might of Aussies,NZ at home are most favoured side this WC,with SA.Rightly so.They have been on top of their game recently with bat,ball,fielding and have results to show for.But Eng have good chance I feel cos of their bowing.

  • Saeed on February 19, 2015, 23:54 GMT

    The Kiwis for the win. They have already figured out their best playing eleven & more importantly (their batting order). The Poms have the talent, but sadly haven't figured out their best eleven as yet. I predict Australia will be in the final, although I'm not sure who their opponent is going to be ...

  • carl on February 19, 2015, 23:45 GMT

    This is a massive game for NZ. It could be the difference between playing Pakistan or perhaps Ireland in the playoffs. The added pressure of having to play Pakistan, our world cup bogey team, increases the significance. It will also help their confidence leading into the next game against Australia. These next two games will greatly influence NZ's chances of winning the cup. NZ need to flex their muscle in this game!

  • Steve-o. on February 19, 2015, 23:40 GMT

    Pras punter, you cant mean Undian or Sri Lankan supporters then as the are the most arrogant fans going around. Lets see how you handle South Africa this weekend then we will talk.....

  • sunny373 on February 19, 2015, 23:33 GMT

    moeen Ali will score a first wc century and will take 3 wickets.

  • richard on February 19, 2015, 23:29 GMT

    @Drew....."In all fairness, at least we recognise other teams and countries exist" the first line in an all to true post.

  • A.J on February 19, 2015, 23:02 GMT

    I have a real feeling the moving ball will undo NZ today. They have played a lot of really average bowling lately, but that changes today and I think they might find themselves 100/5... Again. Can the Ronchi/Anderson/Vettori triumvirate bail them out?

  • Lance on February 19, 2015, 22:49 GMT

    @Codandchips, on the contrary, the choice of spinner for NZ is very easy. Team selectors have settled on Vettori as their first-choice. Vettori has been selected for the first 3 matches and at present he is in excellent bowling form. For a number of years he was ranked as the best ODI spinner. While on paper it seems McCullum's batting is stronger, Vettori is unorthodox and hits the ball to places that the fielding side don't expect, plus Vettori plays IPL and BBL and is used to batting in pressure situations. I think McCullum only plays the local T20, which is a lower standard than the leagues Vettori plays in.