Signing off on a high
It was a little bit weird this week when I took guard for our first one-day international against Ireland in Aberdeen and discovered I wasn't about to be facing Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson or Stuart Broad. After 19 consecutive matches against England, across all forms of the game, I guess we have become pretty accustomed to facing the same familiar faces over the last three or four months.
Mind you, the change of opposition didn't seem to affect us too badly - James Marshall and Brendon McCullum batted exceptionally well as we racked up a 400-plus score, and our bowlers followed up with a really professional performance to secure a record-breaking victory by 290 runs.
Our tour of the British Isles has drawn to a close with another focused performance against Scotland, and now it's off for a well-earned break. And we deserve our holidays after the quality of our performances in recent weeks. We clearly didn't play as well as we had hoped during the Test series, and after the Twenty20 game and the first one-dayer at Chester-le-Street, people were starting to doubt whether there was any fight left in the side at all. But we answered the critics in fine style.
To be honest, we were a little surprised to be written off so easily. The way we looked at the games, we beat England in New Zealand with a comfortable 3-1 victory, and so we felt we deserved to be seen as favourites for this series as well. We showed a lot of character to come back in the last three games, never more so than at The Oval in that controversial fourth ODI.
A lot has been said and written about the Grant Elliott run-out incident, and it's fair to say there was a lot of emotion in our dressing room from the moment it happened right up to the moment of victory. But what the whole episode really showed was how much we wanted to win that game. To be fair to Paul Collingwood, he admitted he was wrong straight away, and it took a lot of guts to do that. I think that defused the situation, although if we had ended up losing it might have rumbled on for a bit longer.
I think we really would have felt robbed if that had happened, especially after the rain denied us a chance to win the second game in Birmingham, because the scoreline could well have been 4-1. But we'll certainly take 3-1. To beat England 6-2 over ten games, home and away, is something for us to be extremely proud of.
I really don't know why we are so much better in the one-day game, but I think it has to come down to experience. England play a hell of a lot more Test cricket, and their experience showed at key moments of the Test series, particularly at Old Trafford. But the same was true of us in the one-dayers. Player for player, there's only Collingwood for England who has played more than 100 games. We've got three of them in Baz [McCullum], Scotty [Styris] and Jacob [Oram], while Daniel Vettori numbers over 200. It just helps you out in the pressure situations, having that little bit more knowhow.
|To beat England 6-2 over ten games, home and away, is something for us to be extremely proud of|
Personally, my form picked up with two quick fifties against Ireland and Scotland, but I was disappointed with the way I batted in the one-dayers against England. One-day cricket is all about momentum and mine was going in the other direction throughout that series. Even so, I've got a huge amount to look back on from this tour - obviously my Test hundred at Old Trafford has to be the highlight. I think I've got a way to go to be considered one of the senior players in the side, but I'd like to think I've learned to put my hand up, and become a better player.
So now it's time to sign off for this tour. A lot of our guys are staying around in Europe for a while, taking the chance to go and do a bit of sightseeing, and one or two will be stopping off in America on the way back. We've basically been playing non-stop since September, so we're looking forward to a bit of downtime to recharge the batteries and get away from cricket for a while. Our next trip is to Pakistan in August, and though it's still up in the air whether we're going or not, that's what we're planning on doing.
Personally, I'm off to Ireland for a week, to drive around and catch up with a few family friends. I saw one or two of them during the England tour, but really there wasn't a lot of time for socialising outside the squad. Then I'm off to Norwich for three or four days, where I used to play club cricket before being picked for New Zealand.
It's been a great few months of tough international cricket. I think if you ask anyone, people always talk of England as one of those tours that you really want to get under your belt during a career. All of the grounds, from Lord's to Trent Bridge and Old Trafford, have such history attached to them, but the highlight - outside the games themselves - was just the chance to get to know all the boys so well, on all those long coach journeys all around the country.
New Zealand middle-order batsman Ross Taylor's diaries appeared on Cricinfo throughout the England series. Taylor spoke to Andrew Miller