England vs New Zealand | Tuesday 23 June | Manchester | 19:30
England and talismanic redhead Jonny Bairstow brought a thoroughly exhilarating ODI series to a close with victory from a rain-affected chase at Chester-le-Street. One of the most engrossing five-match series in recent memory broke the record for runs scored and firmly imprinted the World Cup’s new style of aggression on the game. New Zealand remain in England for a solitary T20 to wrap up the tour and with the Black Caps partially responsible for bringing a twenty-over style to the fifty-over game, fireworks are expected in Manchester. New Zealand will be hoping that the squad can end a relatively productive tour on a high.
To Win Match
New Zealand 9/10
Given the injury to first-choice ‘keeper Jos Buttler, England’s man of the moment - Jonny Bairstow - finds a place in Tuesday’s T20 squad. Bairstow’s technique was largely dismantled during his first stint in international cricket but his return at Chester-le-Street heralded a fluency previously not on display. Director of Cricket Andrew Strauss - in one of his first moves in his new role - was to strip Stuart Broad of the T20 captaincy. Surprisingly, Broad does not even find a place in the squad. Instead, England have elected to include five uncapped players. Sam Billings, Reece Topley, James Vince, David Willey and Mark Wood have all been granted the opportunity to impress in the shortest form of the game. Billings, Willey and Wood have featured in other formats on this tour and will be relatively familiar. However, for Topley and Vince, this will be their first experience in a national squad. It seems clear that England are dedicated to finding a long-term left-arm quick judging by recent selections. David Willey played in the ODI series, pacy Mark Footitt has been included in a pre-Ashes training squad and now Topley is afforded the opportunity in T20 cricket. It’s not a squad brimming with the big names but rather simmering with potential.
For the Black Caps, there won’t be much change to the starting line-up with the ODI squad doubling as the T20 squad. It goes without saying that Brendon McCullum will be the biggest threat at the top of the order, though England will also have their work cut out containing an in-form Martin Guptill. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are also in fine touch and topped the ODI series run-scorer list. They will be hoping to carry on in good stead and end New Zealand’s tour on a positive note. Ben Wheeler will likely take the new ball in the absence of Trent Boult, his lower-order ability with the bat a true asset in this format. It will also provide more good experience for the likes of Mitchell Santner, who has performed admirably in New Zealand’s attempt to replace Dan Vettori. The youngster has shown fallibility with bat, ball and most importantly last time out, in the field. However, his potential is clear and the Black Caps will do well to persist with him. Another candidate for experience is left-field inclusion Andrew Mathieson. He took a wicket with his first ball at Chester-le-Street but then promptly went for ten-an-over. Four overs in Manchester may provide further insight into his abilities.
Of the two completed T20s at Old Trafford, England have won both of them. It is a ground on which England have experienced plenty of success in all formats. No rain is predicted for Tuesday so there is every chance that the Manchester crowd will be treated to forty overs of high-octane cricket. Given the bulk of runs scored in the ODIs and seemingly flat preparation of the wickets, expect another run glut here.
VERDICT: England 9/10
Old Trafford seems to bring the best out of England and with the inclusion of a few young guns with intent to impress, I’m backing the home side to come out on top. New Zealand will probably feel a tad jaded from a tough tour and do not have opportunity to tailor their side accordingly.