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The Preview by Alan Gardner
February 16, 2013
Match factsFebruary 17, 2013
Big PictureFrom the frenetic, electro-pop noodling of T20, the series settles into a more traditional rhythm ahead of the hoped-for operatic sweep of the Tests - an ideal way to build up through the formats during a tour. The ODIs will provide us with a burst of prog rock, as maligned as it is apparently outdated but still capable of moving the faithful. And, given 50-overs cricket is traditionally New Zealand's strongest suit, a decent contest could provoke some contented toe-tapping and beard-stroking among onlookers.
England do not have a great ODI record in New Zealand, having only twice won bilateral series there, the last in 1992. They will also have to deal with one of the side effects of modern format juggling, as almost half the side, including the top three, will come in cold, having not played a match on tour. In the cases of Jonathan Trott, James Anderson and Graeme Swann, their last competitive outing came in the Nagpur Test in mid-December. England may have come up with a method to coax their corps through the international calendar but, as Australia have recently discovered, constant tinkering can be just as damaging as losing players to injury.
The New Zealand side will also have a slightly different make-up to the T20s, though the likes of BJ Watling, Kane Williamson and Kyle Mills have been able to play domestic cricket since returning from South Africa. Ross Taylor missed New Zealand's surprise ODI series win on that tour but his return, provided he can find some form, should strengthen an already capable outfit. There is a good blend of youth and experience in the squad and, despite England's lofty ODI ranking (second to India on decimal points), Brendon McCullum will be hoping his side can land a few more blows before the Tests.
With Ashley Giles still wearing out the creases in his new England gilet, having taken over as limited-overs coach last month, there will be plenty of lessons to learn in conditions that will be more reflective of those at home, where the final edition of the Champions Trophy will be held later this year. A 3-2 defeat in India was no disgrace but a few quandaries - such as the wicketkeeping position and candidates for No. 7 - remain. For McCullum and Mike Hesson, another new team, the priority is simple: win.
Form guide(Most recent first, completed matches)
In the spotlightKane Williamson is one of New Zealand's most promising batsmen but he struggled to cope with the demands of playing in all three formats in 2012. Dropped from the T20 team for the South Africa tour, he returned to limited-overs international cricket batting at No. 3 in the Kimberley ODI and made his highest score of 145 not out in a series-clinching win. New Zealand have several dashers and diligent allrounders but Williamson adds class to the batting line-up.
He has rapidly developed into England's T20 explosives expert, but Jos Buttler is still learning on the job as wicketkeeper, a position that Alastair Cook confirmed he will hang on to for the ODIs despite the presence of Jonny Bairstow in the squad. Buttler has only played three ODIs and has a maximum of six to cement his place as keeper for the Champions Trophy. The prospect of giving him an extra 30 overs in which to wreak destruction with the bat is also tantalising.
Team newsTaylor will come back into the side at No. 4 and he could find himself spending plenty of time in the middle with McCullum, who has moved to No. 5 to balance the demands of captaincy and wicketkeeping. New Zealand face a straight choice between playing one of the two other allrounders in the squad, Colin Munro and Andrew Ellis, or Trent Boult.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 BJ Watling, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt & wk), 6 Grant Elliott, 7 James Franklin, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
They may not be comparable in terms of style but England will welcome back the reliable presence of Trott in place of the rested Kevin Pietersen. The conditions could be ripe for Chris Woakes to showcase his all-round skills at No. 7, while Anderson, Stuart Broad and Swann should slot back in after missing the India series. Steven Finn, meanwhile, could debut a new, shortened run-up to try and combat his habit of knocking the stumps in his delivery stride.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn
Pitch and conditionsThe teams head back up to Hamilton, venue for the second T20, where New Zealand's pitch-it-up swing trumped England's hit-the-deck aggression. The sunny weather is expected to continue and, considering the effect of the ball under lights earlier in the week, the team winning the toss may fancy having first crack at the short boundaries.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We've just come off a series win in South Africa. Ross Taylor has been added to that mix. He gives us strength and quality in middle order. And our bowling unit has some experience and some good aggressive youth as well."
"Belly and I played a couple of weeks ago, so the other guys are probably a little bit underdone ... But they're world-class players who've played here before. So it shouldn't be too much of a problem."
England captain Alastair Cook on the returning Trott, Anderson and Swann
"I like playing ODI cricket. There's a 50-over World Cup in 2015, which we're working towards. I think it's a good game, and as we saw in India, in the series we've just played, you can have some really exciting finishes and exciting games of cricket. Long may it continue, hopefully."
England quick Steven Finn voices his support of the one-day international format
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A collection of fine cricket writing on great cricket feats, and never mind the omissions
Plays of the Day from the first ODI between South Africa and India in Johannesburg