England in search of one-day revival against New Zealand
London: England, not for the first time, will try to re-launch themselves as a one-day international cricket side when they face World Cup finalists New Zealand in the first of a five-match series at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
Since they made the third of three losing World Cup final appearances back in 1992, England have struggled to keep up with changes in the 50-over game. But this year's World Cup represented a new low, with England failing to beat a single Test nation in a tournament where they suffered a first-round exit after a defeat by Bangladesh.
An antiquated approach, where 300 was regarded as a par score, was damned as "prehistoric" by Paul Collingwood, still the only Englishman to skipper the side to a global limited overs trophy -- the 2010 World Twenty20 in the Caribbean. It also played a key role in Peter Moores being sacked as England coach by incoming director of cricket Andrew Strauss and replaced by Australian Trevor Bayliss. For years now, England have tended to regard white-ball cricket as a necessary, money-spinning, evil with results in five-day Test matches all that matters.
But in omitting the likes of senior pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad, as well as experienced batsman Ian Bell, for the New Zealand one-day series and including the hard-hitting Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Jason Roy, as well as leg-spinner Adil Rashid, England's squad -- still led by World Cup skipper Eoin Morgan -- has something of a fresh look about it.
The 2019 World Cup will be staged in England, where pitch and overhead conditions sometimes mean that the huge scores achieved in the southern hemisphere are not always within reach. But Buttler, England's wicket-keeper at the World Cup and one of a new breed of fast-scoring batsmen, accepted the team's approach to 50-over cricket had to change.
"You have to be brutally honest and say we were getting it wrong," the 24-year-old told the Mail on Sunday. "We have to be looking at scores of 350 and upwards," added the Lancashire gloveman, who announced himself on the international stage with a thrilling 74-ball 121 against Sri Lanka in a one-dayer at Lord's last year. "That's the way the game is going. In a few years we'll look back at the (2015) World Cup and say it was a turning point in 50-over cricket."
During their run to the World Cup final, where they lost to fellow co-hosts Australia, the Black Caps hammered England by eight wickets in Wellington. Tim Southee took a stunning seven for three as England were skittled out for just 123. New Zealand then pulverised England's attack, skipper Brendon McCullum striking 77 off just 25 balls, a they raced to victory in a mere 12.2 overs.
"We certainly played well that day. That's the way we want to play," said New Zealand coach Mike Hesson, who last week saw his side square a two-Test series with England at 1-1 after a dynamic 199-run win at Headingley. "Hopefully conditions allow that but if not, we've got to try to skin the cat a little differently."
New Zealand certainly played in familiar fashion when thrashing Leicestershire by 198 runs in a one-day warm-up match on Saturday. Both Grant Elliott, who hit Dale Steyn for six to seal New Zealand's dramatic World Cup semi-final win over South Africa, and wicket-keeper Luke Ronchi made 106 not out against the Midlands county.
Mitchell McClenaghan then took four for 31 and the left-arm seamer, fresh from winning the Twenty20 Indian Premier League with the Mumbai Indians, was eager for more limited overs success in England. "Winning the title in my first year playing the IPL was awesome," he told the Blackcaps' website. "I learnt a huge amount, and loved my time in India. "But it's also great to be back with the boys. I'm looking forward to the challenge over here, it's a massive series."