In the messed up world of T20 internationals, three matches represents the kind of epic Homer used to write about. Such a series not only affects the chances of a 1-1 score draw – which according to 51allout is always the result of a two game T20 series – but also allows for some half-hearted reflection and the chance to leap drastically to conclusions.
So what have we learned from this sporting Iliad?
1. New Zealand rocks!
Playing music at sporting events is usually a big “no-no-no-no”. But if you must blast songs over the public address system to entertain the supporters, then a varied and broad repertoire is no doubt the way forward. Whereas Gangnam Style, Chelsea Dagger and Tom Hark are the songs that generally plague British sport, the man controlling the tannoy at both Auckland and Hamilton had the kind of mixed bag of tunes that any music boffin (well, perhaps just the sort of music boffin that whine on about gin and cricket) would be proud to call his playlist. Chic, Faith No More and the Hollies – all brought together under the welcoming arms of T20 cricket.
2. England have some serious fire power
Conveniently ignoring the second match in which England batted like they were all constipated, this series showed that when the ball is there to be hit, boy do these players hit. An uneducated guess suggests that if two batsmen score heavily and quickly in the same innings, then that should really lead to a winning total. Therefore if each of the top six achieve once in every three innings, then all will be well in their world. The way that Luke Wright batted in the first game, and the openers in the third, showed that even without Kevin Pietersen there is some heavy artillery in the top order. And furthermore, Jos Buttler now seems to be delivering the performances that all Somerset fans have been dreaming about for the previous three years. And Somerset fans have some very weird dreams indeed.
3. The Black Caps are rotten in the field
One can accept that some countries are not blessed with a long list of match-winning bowlers or excellent batsmen. Such skills are born out of rare circumstances. However is there anything more frustrating than seeing a team be just woeful in the field? Fielding is the sort of thing that can improve through practice; it’s the sort of thing that teams, shall we say the more limited teams, can get better at relatively easily. In particular, in T20s where every run counts, it is criminal to drop catches or miss run-out chances. Yet throughout this series New Zealand have regularly fumbled and farted their way to levels of fielding politely described as shambolic.
4. Pace matters
In the decisive match, both seam attacks tended to bowl a tad short of a ‘good’ length. The quicker Steven Finn and Stuart Broad were able to both restrict the scoring rate whilst also regularly creating wicket-taking opportunities by bowling sharply. On the other hand, the Kiwi bowlers – Ian Butler in particular – found their length was little better than a batch of long-hops, much to the delight of Hales and Lumb.
5. So long, Samit Rohit Patel
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: surely Patel has played his final match in an England shirt? He is in the ODI squad, but surely there’s no place for him in the starting XI? If England play two spinners, Graeme Swann and James Tredwell would be the likely pairing, or Joe Root can fill in as back-up if only one is picked. Admittedly Root is a limited bowler but arguable he’s no worse than Patel, and offers more with the bat and in the field.