Manchester, United Kingdom: England limited overs captain Eoin Morgan said the national side had shown they "could beat the best in the world in any game of cricket" after ensuring New Zealand's tour ended on a losing note.
Having defeated New Zealand -- who thrashed England by eight wickets at Wellington in February en route to the World Cup final -- 3-2 in a thrilling one-day international series, Morgan's men inflicted a 56-run thrashing upon the Black Caps in Tuesday's tour-ending Twenty20 international at Old Trafford.
"This felt a million miles away after the World Cup," said Morgan of a global tournament where England suffered a humiliating first-round exit without beating a single rival Test nation. "This is a fantastic way to finish what has been a great month of cricket," he added.
"When you're trying to implement change within a group it's important to have successes along the way and these guys have had that. "We've done it the way we said we would and that's important too. "I want these guys to play with as much freedom as possible." Man-of-the-match Joe Root top-scored with 68 in England's 191 for seven, but New Zealand were well-placed at 88 for two and requiring 104 off the last 12 overs for victory.
However, they suffered a batting collapse that saw their final five wickets lost for just four runs in 12 balls. New Zealand were dismissed for 135, with Kane Williamson's typically elegant 57 a rare highlight. England Twenty20 international debutants David Willey, who also ran out Williamson with a brilliant pick-up and throw from cover, and Mark Wood took three wickets apiece.
For England, who shared a two-match Test series 1-1 with New Zealand earlier in the season, it was an ideal way to sign off before they begin their bid to regain the Ashes from Australia next month. "Now we have won this game and the ODI series it reinforces to the guys that, it might not always come off, but we can beat the best in the world in any game of cricket," said Morgan, not currently in England's Test side.
By contrast, at the age of just 24, Yorkshire batsman Root is now an England mainstay in all three international formats. "Joe has been outstanding again," said Morgan. "Although he's still very young he's a very senior player in our squad and the guys don't have to look very far for the ultimate professional in the way he goes about his business."
Root said he was enjoying England's increasingly bold approach, even if he could not quite understand how it had come about. "It's hard to explain, everyone has gone out this summer with a freedom and it's really refreshing to see everyone commit to it and absolutely go for it," Root told Sky Sports. For New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, whose typically rapid 35 off 15 balls gave the crowd a taste of what they can expect when he returns to Old Trafford on Friday with Warwickshire for a Twenty20 county match against Lancashire, it was a desperately disappointing end to what had otherwise been a closely contested tour.
"Some of our batting was pretty amateurish," McCullum said. "We got ourselves in a good position and we should have been able to chase down the total. "Credit to England, they put us under pressure and looked for wickets as they have done throughout the series and they were able to get hold of them."