Big picture

Given the recent history between these teams, it's hardly a surprise that the series is level at 1-1. For both of them, though, these games are much more about looking to the future - and the T20 World Cup in Australia, which is less than a year away - than dwelling on the past.

Partly for that reason, England are using the series to take a look at fringe candidates who could force their way into that squad. So days like Saturday - when the inexperience is obvious and expresses itself in batting collapses, poor choices with the ball or, as was the case in Wellington, fielding errors - are probably unavoidable.

With that in mind, they look set to continue to experiment in the third match. Tom Banton looks likely to come into the side in place of the rested Jonny Bairstow, while there may be a temptation to look at leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, too. Chris Jordan, who has been England's player of the series, could drop out safe in the knowledge that his long-term position is secure, while Sam Curran has also made a fine impression.

Even while accepting there is a bigger picture than victory in this series, England will be looking to improve markedly in the field. For while the England management will accept the odd spilled catch - there were four or five at Wellington, depending on how harsh a judge you may be - they are less likely to tolerate any sense of timidity in the field. It's an area they will have to improve if they are to challenge in Australia.

New Zealand aren't at full strength either. With Kane Williamson to miss the T20I series and Trent Boult not expected back until the fourth match, they have relatively few options among their 13-man squad. With leg-spin proving expensive in the series to date, though, they may be tempted to play an extra seamer.

They won in Wellington largely due to their superior fielding, but they may be just a little concerned by the lack of runs from their top order. Martin Guptill at least registered his highest score in 12 international matches (dating back to June 1) but none of their batsmen have yet scored more than 44 in the series. Ross Taylor, who to be fair has slipped into the middle order, hasn't made a T20I half-century since March 2014.

Form guide

England LWWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)

New Zealand WLLWW

In the spotlight

Mitchell Santner is not, at first glance, an especially eye-catching cricketer. But with his excellent control, his extravagant changes of pace and his intelligence, he has developed into a fine limited-overs bowler who is currently not only the leading wicket-taker in the series (he has taken six; three in each match) but also the most economical (of those who have delivered more than two overs) going for exactly a run-a-ball. His success looks particularly admirable when compared to the other spinners, both leggies, in the series: Adil Rashid and Ish Sodhi have each taken two wickets in the series and are conceding their runs at 8.87 and 9.37 an over respectively. He was man of the match in Wellington and is currently fifth in the global T20I bowling rankings.

It's probably unfair to expect too much too soon fromTom Banton. He is just 20-years-old, after all. But such was the invention, such was the power, such was the audacity of his batting for Somerset this season, that comparisons with Jos Buttler and Kevin Pietersen have not only been made but are understandable. He showed an appetite for the big occasion when top-scoring (equal with James Hildreth) as Somerset won the Royal London One-day Cup final at Lord's and was the highest England-qualified run-scorer in the T20 Blast with four fifties and a century from his 13 innings. His run-rate in that competition - an eye-watering 161.47 - underlined his dominance and he was named both the Professional Cricketers' Association and the Cricket Writers' Club young player of the year for the 2019 season. His form on this tour to date has not been especially promising - he made 6 and 11 in his two warm-up innings - but it may be some encouragement to him to recall that he made a century in his most recent Youth ODI against New Zealand in Queenstown in January 2018.

Team news

With a squad of just 13 for these first three games, New Zealand's options are limited. They looked stronger in Wellington with the recall of Jimmy Neesham for Scott Kuggeleijn but, with an eye to the future, may be tempted to take another look at either bowling all-rounder Kuggeleijn or medium-fast seamer Blair Tickner, who has played only one international; a T201 victory over India. Ish Sodhi looks the most vulnerable if New Zealand decide they require only one spinner. Lockie Ferguson, who has bowled with impressive pace and control, is set to play his final game of the series before Trent Boult replaces him in the squad for the last two matches.

New Zealand (possible): 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Tim Seifert (wk), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Colin de Grandhomme, 6 Daryl Mitchell, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Jimmy Neesham, 9 Tim Southee (capt), 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Ish Sodhi

Banton looks set to come in for Jonny Bairstow in this game, with Dawid Malan expected to make way for the final two games. That means Malan may need to make quite an impression here if he is to see off the inevitable return of Jos Buttler, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes et al. There may be a temptation to take a look at Matt Parkinson, too, though such has been the fate of leg-spinners in the series he could face a tough baptism. If Parkinson does play, it may have to be in place of fellow leggie Adil Rashid. Rashid still looks a bit out of sorts, leading to fears that his shoulder injury is a little worse than he likes to admit. Given Lewis Gregory's fine start with the ball in the previous game - he became the latest man to start his international career with a first-ball wicket - Eoin Morgan may feel he can trust him to a larger role in that department.

England (possible): 1 Dawid Malan, 2 Tom Banton, 3 James Vince, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Sam Billings (wk), 6 Lewis Gregory, 7 Sam Curran, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Tom Curran/Saqib Mahmood, 10 Adil Rashid/Matt Parkinson, 11 Pat Brown

Pitch and conditions

This is very early season in New Zealand. Indeed, there had never been an earlier international game on the South Island than the series opener in Christchurch, So while the boundaries at Saxton Park - about 160 miles north of Christchurch, on the northern coast of the South Island - are not especially long and while the weather is set fair (cloudy and a bit windy but dry), it would be a miracle if the ground staff were able to coax much pace from this wicket. For that reason, there may be just a little grip for spinners or cutters and just a little difficulty in timing the ball for batsmen.

Stats and trivia

  • The mayor of Nelson, Rachel Reese, is married to former Somerset (and, briefly, Yorkshire and Central Districts) batsman Richard Harden.

  • This is only the second T20I at the Saxton Oval in Nelson. New Zealand won the previous one, against West Indies, at the end of 2017. New Zealand have won six of the seven completed ODIs they have played at the ground; Sri Lanka beat them on New Year's Eve in 2015 while the match between the same sides a few days later was lost to the weather. England's men have never played an international game at the ground.

  • The ground is named in memory of a Shropshire-born John Saxton who farmed in the region - he was something of a pioneer in realising the value of sheep farming on such land - as well as providing invaluable information for future generations as a diarist and painter.

    Stats that matter

  • Tim Southee requires two wickets to become the eighth man to claim 75 T20I wickets.

  • Adil Rashid requires one more wicket to draw level with Jade Dernbach as the fourth-highest T20I wicket-taker for England. Dernbach took 39 T20I wickets. Only Graeme Swann (51), Chris Jordan (52) and Stuart Broad (65) have more for England.

  • Colin Munro requires 41 runs to draw level with Kane Williamson's run-tally of 1,505 for New Zealand in T20Is. The pair have played the same number of games (57), though Williamson has batted once more often. Only three men (Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor) have scored more T20I runs for New Zealand than Williamson.

  • Eoin Morgan requires 32 runs to move equal 10th in the list of the top T20I run-scores of all time. He is currently 12th.

  • England have won 11 and lost six of the 18 T20Is played between the nations. One game was lost to the weather.


"That's probably my most common question: have you gotten over it yet? I don't think it's about getting over it, it's just accepting it. It will be there forever, you can't change it. It doesn't mean you have to dwell on it any more than a fleeting thought every now and then."
Jimmy Neesham reflects on the World Cup

"We want guys continuing to attack the ball and find themselves in hot spots if they're good enough."
Eoin Morgan expects better from England's fielders after a disappointing display in Wellington