Remember when you were a child? Summers seemed to last forever, consisting mainly as they did of watching episodes of Pugwall before playing football for around nine hours each day. It was a time of wonder, when every new day was an adventure to be looked forward to. Over time this wonder faded, to be replaced by fear and trepidation, with life becoming a never-ending circle of admin – car insurance, house insurance, court summons and so on – and going to work. Birthdays began to be a day for commiseration, not celebration. Indeed, the thought of turning 30 was particularly horrific. Imagine being 30. One score years and ten. Three years older than Jimi Hendrix ever managed. It really wasn’t something to be looked forward to at all. In a perfect world, we’d have hidden under a large pile of coats and just hoped that everything worked out okay.
And that’s pretty much exactly how we feel about having to cover the upcoming two game T20 series between England and New Zealand.
They say that the first thing you should do when you fall off a horse is get right back into the saddle. Luckily for England they have a chance to do just that – win this high profile series and surely the Champions Trophy fiasco will be forgotten, consigned to the dustbin of history like Keith Harris and Orville, or competent Australian batsmen. In order to try and achieve that, England have turned to something of a second string squad. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara are the senior pros in the side, which at least gives them a chance to make up for getting out to Ishant Sharma in ridiculous fashion just two days ago, with James Tredwell ticking the box of token baldie. Oh, and some bloke called Kevin will join the squad for the second game.
The real interest is around the new faces. Will Boyd Rankin and Gary Ballance be any good? Can the Stokes/Woakes allround middle order prove themselves capable at international level? And who accidentally selected Jade Dernbach and Michael Lumb?
Realistically, England aren’t going to get anything particularly useful out of this series – their only other T20 action of the summer comes just four days after the Ashes is due to finish and we’re calling the game at Durham as a washout already. Such is the nature of international T20, unfortunately.
We can’t help but feel sorry for New Zealand. Their tour basically finished some time ago and yet they’ve been forced to hang around kicking their heels to fulfill this utterly pointless contractual obligation. Their squad looks distinctly like their ODI squad – it’s almost as if no-one could be arsed to fly all the way around the world just for these two games – which means we’ll probably have to sit through another Martin Guptill masterclass, bashing England’s bowlers to all parts.
Of course there’s no Dan Vettori – if we weren’t completely bankrupt we’d have money on him never playing any form of international cricket again, unfortunately – but we will have one last chance to worship at the altar of Mitchell McClenaghan, by far the best Mitchell on the international scene, before he inevitably breaks down, never to be seen again.
If we were New Zealand, we’d be sat in the crowd drinking and mucking about during these games.
Let’s be honest: no-one cares about these games. Seriously, no-one does. We’ll just do what we always do and point out that all two-match T20 series inevitably finish 1-1. Gary Ballance to top score in one of the games, to at least give tabloid headline writers a little bit of fun.