England vs New Zealand | Tuesday 09 June | Edgbaston | 15:00
England and New Zealand resume hostilities in Birmingham on Tuesday for the beginning of a five-match ODI series that will be about experimentation for hosts. Following a dismal World Cup and with the upcoming Ashes in mind, England will field a side with more than a few fresh faces. New Zealand enter the series at full strength following a surgical dissection of Leicestershire in their warm-up fixture and will look to continue the vein of form that saw the Black Caps into the World Cup final.
To Win Match
New Zealand 6/10
England’s pitiful World Cup campaign has left many of their squad’s ODI careers in jeopardy. However, Eoin Morgan, World Cup captain and out-of-sorts, returns to lead the side. James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Bell have been left out of the ODI series but it is surely more Ashes rest than axing for the bowlers. Bell was England’s top scorer at the World Cup, but this not saying much for his case. England clearly wish to move into a new era of attack and aggression and Ian Bell just doesn’t fit the bill. Moeen Ali has also been left out of this series to concentrate on red-ball cricket but his poor returns during the Test matches as the specialist spinner may see an opportunity arise for Yorkshire leg-spinning all-rounder Adil Rashid. Rashid, Sam Billings, Jason Roy, David Willey and Mark Wood will all be hoping to impress new head coach Trevor Bayliss with their inclusions here. Gary Ballance, Ravi Bopara and James Tredwell, who were all present at the World Cup, have been dropped while Chris Woakes is sidelined by injury. Steven Finn returns and, for his sake, it best be with a steely nerve. Brendon McCullum slammed Finn for 44 from ten balls at the global tournament in a ferocious smearing of the bowler’s reputation and Finn was left out of the West Indies tour as a result. Left-arm seamer David Willey is one to keep a close eye on. He offers some much needed variation in the pace ranks and powerful hitting in the lower-middle order.
New Zealand’s World Cup combination won’t change much except for the retirement of Daniel Vettori. However, the Black Caps navigated long spells without the veteran spinner and are relatively well stocked with replacements. Nathan McCullum has spent extended time filling Vettori’s role and is the more likely incumbent. Mitchell Santner bowled some handy overs against Leicestershire however and will hopeful of gaining his place in the side at some point in the series. Otherwise, the top order remains the same. Martin Guptill and captain Brendon McCullum will form a potent opening partnership followed by Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott. Corey Anderson is likely to return from a back injury to take up his position at number six while the in-form Luke Ronchi takes the gloves and bats seven. Elliott and Ronchi combined for a 221-run stand in 25 overs in the warm-up match, both finishing on 106 not out at better than a run a ball. Southee and Boult will undoubtedly open the bowling and the spot of third seamer will be contested between Matt Henry and Mitchell McClenaghan. Henry would be unfortunate to lose his place after consistent displays but the latter’s 4/31 against Leicestershire makes a case for his inclusion.
Edgbaston is one of the more historic grounds in England and since Test series have become shorter, doesn’t see as much action as in previous years. It is, however, usually a stop on the one-day tours and recently England have not fared so well at the ground. How much can be read into this is uncertain however, as England haven’t fared very well anywhere. Of the past three ODIs completed at Edgbaston, England have won none. New Zealand last played a fifty-over match in Birmingham in 1994 due to frequent washouts for the Black Caps in the following years. Luckily, there is only a 10% chance of rain this time around.
VERDICT: New Zealand 6/10
A young, experimental and as a result, foolish England side shouldn’t have enough to get over the line against this Black Caps side. They may impress in parts and I would expect to see a change in mentality, but England as an area doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the type of attacking cricket witnessed in the World Cup. New Zealand are simply smarter. Back the Black Caps to outfox their counterparts at 6/10.