New Zealand v England, 3rd ODI, Auckland February 23, 2013

Finn leads England to series win


England 186 for 5 (Cook 46, Morgan 39) beat New Zealand 185 (McCullum 79, Finn 3-27) by five wickets

If occasionally knocking over the bowler's end bails can be deemed a weakness, it is the only blemish against Steven Finn at the moment. His new, shorter, run up is designed to address that issue and it has taken none of the pace and aggression away from him, qualities which were too good for New Zealand as England comfortably won the deciding ODI.

The win secured their first ODI series in New Zealand since 1992 and was the result of a fine bowling display led by Finn. His excellence included three wickets that laid a platform for England to dominate in the field. He and James Anderson conceded just 18 in the opening 10 overs and New Zealand never recovered, being bowled out for a total nowhere near competitive on a dry, hard, flat surface.

England should have completed a rout but stuttered slightly towards the end of the chase. For the most part they played with the fluency expected on an excellent drop-in pitch. Brendon McCullum also did justice to the conditions with another fine captain's innings, his third consecutive half-century, but the rest of New Zealand's batsman were undone by England's dangerous, disciplined attack, the best of whom was Finn.

The wicket was tailor-made for him and he was often unplayable. His opening spell went for just five and created a crawl through the Powerplay. A regular fall of wickets stymied the recovery and Brendon McCullum's 79 in 68 balls was a lone hand.

England could have asked for no better after Alastair Cook decided to bowl. On a tiny ground - boundaries so short the venue would not be ratified by the ICC if it were a new ground - it was a remarkable performance with the ball. Finn and Anderson produced another opening 10 overs where New Zealand went nowhere and the mood remained throughout the innings.

Only when McCullum opened up in the second Powerplay did New Zealand ever look like making the progress demanded of them to be competitive. But when he was superbly taken by Anderson at deep midwicket to be last man out, New Zealand had wasted seven overs of their innings and were looking down the barrel of defeat.

Chasing such a small target against an attack with few threats, England encountered few problems. New Zealand's seamers are at least five-miles-an-hour slower than England's and provided none of the control that saw the first innings so stifled. England went at five an over in the Powerplay.

They allowed the chase to descend from overwhelming to workmanlike with some lazy strokes - Cook and Jonathan Trott both caught behind driving outside off - but it was beneficial that Eoin Morgan was able to enjoy time at the crease. He drove well off Tim Southee before lifting him over midwicket for six and striking Nathan McCullum over long-on: 39 from 24 balls was a strong reminder of Morgan's ability at a time when everyone's place is under scrutiny because of Joe Root's emergence. Root again led England home with a composed, mature innings.

But the depth of England's batting was in stark contrast to New Zealand, who were badly exposed against the new ball. McCullum was left stranded and his form would suggest he would be better utilised at the top of the order.

The inexperienced opening pair of BJ Watling and Hamish Rutherford lacked the technique to deal with Anderson and especially Finn. Watling faced him like a schoolchild in his first adult net session. He only lasted four balls from Finn. The first delivery whistled past his shoulder, the second jagged back sharply, the third seamed away beating the outside edge and the fourth was fended to second slip as Watling was beaten for pace.

Finn's opening five overs were unplayable. He found plenty of bounce and moved the new ball both ways. His second wicket was reward for his probing of Rutherford who eventually wafted at a wide delivery and edged behind.

The over was the second of consecutive wicket maidens as New Zealand made another limp effort of the opening Powerplay. Returns of 33 for 1 in Hamilton and 21 for 2 in Napier were trumped by 18 for 3 from the first 10 overs here.

Anderson matched his taller partner, with his opening five overs costing 12, and had Williamson caught behind when he uncharacteristically felt for a ball which held its line just outside off stump to take a thin edge.

Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad, though lacking the nip of Anderson or the pace of Finn, continued England's form with the ball. Broad found the crucial wicket of Taylor who cut at him and got a toe-end to the keeper. Taylor had calamitously ran Grant Elliot out two overs earlier.

It meant McCullum was forced to play carefully with whoever he could find at the other end. He eventually got going in the second over of the batting Powerplay, pulling Finn for two fours before flat-batting a six over long off as Finn went fuller and fuller. It was the first time the bowlers had come under pressure and raised the question of why New Zealand hadn't tried to attack England earlier in the innings. But the brief respite from tumbling wickets didn't last long.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on February 25, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    @Bring_back_Wright on (February 25, 2013, 0:38 GMT) Not sure about Wright as a coach (don't know much about his coaching achievements) but I wonder how often NZ would have fielded their best side (for 1 reason or another) in recent years. I always liked Vettori as a player/leader - esp in shorter formats. All the best

  • Alan on February 25, 2013, 0:38 GMT

    @ JG2704 - thanks, and yes if refers to John Wright. I've never met him, but have huge respect for him as a coach and a person. Still very disappointed we let him go as coach. We've taken a huge step backwards in that department in my opinion.

  • John on February 24, 2013, 10:34 GMT

    @Bring_back_Wright - Class comments there bud. Re your user name - I presume that's John Wight? I met him (when he was a player at Derbyshire). Him and M Crowe (playing for Somerset) were having a drink together after a 40 over match and he (actually both were) was such a lovely bloke. I've always had a soft spot for NZ ever since.

    @Matt Fallaize - Likewise , thanks for the comms. Also , it's very subjective as what falls into the good,very good,excellent and unplayable catagorees. What I don't get is that nowhere on the article does it say/intimate that it was anything other than a great spell of bowling and is not equating that a great spell of bowling equates as a great player

  • John on February 24, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    @.CricketingStargazer on (February 23, 2013, 19:11 GMT) - Neutrals - - where? Seriously there have only been a few NZ fans who have been very self critical of their own team , which I don't mind. I'm probably one of the most critical guys about Eng's faults. Yeah we obviously need a convincing win but also Aus need to hold their own in India. I think we can forget about chasing down SA any time soon. They no longer seem to be losing tests that they should be winning and are holding on when they are behind in tests - a la Aus series.

  • John on February 24, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    @Harmony111 on (February 23, 2013, 19:45 GMT) Not cunningly at all. I just can't be bothered to go round and round in circles to put my points across , when they are ignored at the other end. As I put before , if it is no big deal to score 214 in TWENTY overs (as you posted at the time) then to restrict a side to 185 in FIFTY overs is impressive. It's either 1 or the other. Lol at terming a day when someone says something you don't like on a cricket website as a "Ghastly Day" and Mr Baker was not wrong as you are currently demonstrating. Oh and thanks for telling me what is right and what is wrong re posts on this website but I think I'll judge for myself - if that's ok with you

    please publish

  • gerry on February 24, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    @Selassie-I on (February 23, 2013, 23:30 GMT) Indian fans - trust me, all us england fans are rooting for you now you're playing the aussies! We're on the same team at the moment.

    NOOOOOO way.... I want to see India lose in all formats :) Tired of reading some of the Indian fans comments on here, constantly whining and looking for faults in the England team, even after they were well beaten in the test matches.

    I'm rooting for the Aussies.... never thought I would say that :) :)

  • Michael on February 24, 2013, 5:12 GMT

    Not too bad winning in NZ. !992 was the year we made finals in WC and hopefully we shall see similar at 2015 WC in A and NZ again.Good stuff from England.

  • Hamish on February 24, 2013, 1:02 GMT

    On the Finn note, i saw him bowl yesterday and thought he was very impressive, not unpalyable, but very good. Irrespective to him getting his wickets against two completely inexperienced openers and a tail ender, and bowling to an 8th ranked team, (sarcasm half intended), with the way he was bowling on that batting pitch, he still wouldve troubled much more capable batsmen and deserves some credit

    He reminds of me of mitchell starc. He like starc, have test averages just under 30, where starc's is 29.33 with an expensive economy of 3.57 and finn's better with 28.22, but with an even worse economy of 3.62. They both are tall and relatively young, with undoubted talent and heaps of potential, but their downfall comes in their attributes to relieve pressure by being wayward and inconsistent

    With Finn being eng's 2nd choice pacer, and starc competing with the likes of Harris, bird, johnson and patto, more emphasis is placed on Finn to perform. Whether Finn stands up or not will be vital.

  • Rayner on February 23, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    Indian fans - trust me, all us england fans are rooting for you now you're playing the aussies! We're on the same team at the moment.

  • Alan on February 23, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    I'm a kiwi, but I have to say I'm getting sick of all this England bashing. What is wrong with people that have to post negative comments on a series that doesn't even involve their team? I've found most of the comments from the English fans pretty fair, and the ones that aren't are mostly quite comical (e.g. FFL).

    @ Tlotoxl, I don't see one post on here where a NZer is using injuries as an excuse, so not sure where that comment is coming from. That said, I have no doubt that some would try.

    In regards to the "unplayable" debate. Our openers couldn't play Finn, so you would have to say for them, Finn was unplayable yesterday. Although McCullum did manage to play him fairly well! Following on from Matt's point about the media earlier...they do have a tendency to sensationalize things, which is a tad annoying. But..@Harmony111, it achieved exactly it's purpose, it got you to read the story. No point complaining.

    Well played England, especially the opening bowlers the whole series.

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