Hamilton promises another runfest
Match factsTuesday, February 12, Seddon Park
Start time 1900 (0600 GMT)
Big PictureLuke Wright's assessment of the deluge of sixes that rained upon the Eden Park crowd during the opening Twenty20 international was enthusiastic enough, but with a hint of reservations. England had cleared the boundary 15 times, only two short of equalling the world record, and Wright contributing four of them in a domineering 42 from 20 balls. New Zealand managed eight - and their innings never really took off.
"To see fours and sixes, I suppose that's what people come to watch," Wright said. Rarely in cricket has the world "suppose" been worthy of such a debate. Spectators assuredly do not want stodgy pitches and massive outfields, big hitting is demanded above all, but it has to be a challenge, otherwise you might as well just double up the boundary with the 30-yard fielding circle. Wright, helped by a great batting surface, virtually blocked one of his sixes over the rope.
Eden Park, if you take proper note of its tiny straight boundaries, is a rugby ground doing its best to fake its suitability for cricket. Seddon Park in Hamilton, where the three-match series now moves, at least feels like a cricket ground, but the boundary hits are not much bigger. With campaigners also fighting to prevent a flyover affecting the atmosphere at Basin Reserve, nobody could suggest that New Zealand's compilation of cricket grounds are in perfect shape.
Last year, the South African opener, Richard Levi, struck 13 sixes in a 51-ball 117 not out. Aerial combat is likely to be resumed tonight. In Auckland, the crowd lapped it up. This is very much the way in New Zealand cricket, but there is a balance and, without being po-faced over the sight of people having a fun night out at T20, it is about time the ICC debated it.
Form guideNew Zealand: LLWLT (most recent first)
Players to watchEngland's pace bowler Jade Dernbach was accidentally spiked on the arm in training, continuing a winter which has not lavished many favours upon him. For the moment at least, England's faith in his variety still holds.
Hamish Rutherford's T20 debut was overshadowed by the return of Ross Taylor, but his arrival is an exciting one. T20 would have been perfect for his father, Ken, whose rapid triple-hundred at the Scarborough Festival included 199 between lunch and tea while the media, largely unaware, was enjoying a lavish sponsor's lunch.
Team newsAllrounder Grant Elliott and seamer Ian Butler are back in the New Zealand 13 after minor injuries ruled them out at Eden Park. Jimmy Neesham has been omitted from the New Zealand squad.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Brendon McCullum (capt & wk), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Grant Elliott, 6 Colin Munro, 7 James Franklin, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Ian Butler, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
England have a doubt over Eoin Morgan (strained back) and if he is unfit Joe Root is expected to deputise. Root has had an introduction to international cricket, in all three formats, more successful than he could ever have imagined, but Morgan is England's gun batsman in T20 cricket and he would be sorely missed.
England (probable) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Samit Patel, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 James Tredwell, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach
Pitch and conditionsBoth sides will enter this game anticipating that another excellent batting surface will ensure that a score of 200-plus is necessary. Batsmen have dominated at Seddon Park, although Bangladesh's 78 all out three years ago is a salutary reminder that T20 innings can go awry even in the most encouraging conditions.
Stats and trivia
- Luke Wright is England's second most experienced T20 player, having played 40 times, a figure exceeded only by his captain Stuart Broad, although perhaps surprisingly he has figured more in 50-over cricket, winning selection 46 times.
- Wright 's itinerant lifestyle demanded 38 flights last year - quite a challenge for somebody who calls himself "a nervous flyer." To cope, he says, he watches the same movies over and over again.
- Richard Levi's hundred in Hamilton a year ago, for South Africa against New Zealand, was the fastest in T20I, his 45 balls surpassing Chris Gayle's 50-ball blitz for West Indies against South Africa in Johannesburg.
Quotes"One minute you are talking tactics about how to get a player out, the next minute he is in your side somewhere else. It's strange. You have to be careful not to give away your weaknesses because your team-mate one day might be an opponent a week later."
Luke Wright, England's allrounder, on the strange world of a T20 specialist.
"We're working well together and the longer we do that the better that relationship will be. But it's going to take a while before we're going out for coffee every week."
Mike Hesson, New Zealand's coach, recognises that his rift with Ross Taylor, the Test captain he sacked, will not heal overnight.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo