Just like in the T20 series England turned on the style when it really mattered, blowing the New Zealand batting away before strolling to a comfortable victory to take the series.
Another comfortable win for the tourists, with more than twelve overs to spare, was down to an impressive bowling and fielding performance, backed up with some (mostly) sensible batting. We’ve talked about New Zealand not being very good far too often over the last few months but they completely lived up to our expectations in this series, with one decent performance, one average one and a bit of a shocker to finish. Performing over three games remains just too much of a challenge. As does getting up at 1am three times in a week, to be honest.
Despite our inevitable bias towards all things England – only one of our writers wasn’t born there and he just loves rain, race riots and gutter journalism* – we’re not blinkered enough to appreciate that the greater good of the game is more important than any one side. Hence the gins all round to celebrate the imminent rule change around bowlers kicking over the stumps, which should finally put to bed the dead ball nonsense that has followed Steve Finn around for the last year like a terrible, terrible smell.
In the absence of such shenanigans, this was Finn at his finest. Quick, aggressive and accurate, he was simply a class above everyone else on display. Once he’d finished taking apart the New Zealand top order the game was basically over, despite the best efforts of Brendon McCullum, a man who must wonder quite why he even bothers anymore.
Going into the tour, New Zealand’s appeared to have diminishing opportunities as the games went by. We reckoned they might be a decent bet for the T20 series, something which didn’t happen, and had a chance in the ODIs, which also passed them by. Now with only Tests left they’re a bit screwed, especially if they continue to drop catches left, right and centre. Their recently announced squad hardly inspires confidence either.
For England everything has gone pretty well so far. If they can complete the expected series win in the Tests it’ll represent a solid start to what is a fairly important year, albeit one in which the real tests are still to come.
* not the Daily Mail, which is obviously a beacon of journalistic integrity.