Neither of these two teams hit their straps during the T20 tri-series, a win apiece with New Zealand edging into the final then underwhelming with the bat. But this series is a meeting between two confident 50-over outfits. England have had a week to dust themselves down from the T20 setbacks – which has included a couple of days off – and readjust their sights back to the format which is becoming their calling card while New Zealand have eight victories on the bounce this season.
Whenever these sides meet the conversation quickly turns to England’s humiliation at the 2015 World Cup – particularly the shredding in Wellington – and the conversation that ensued between Eoin Morgan and Brendon McCullum, which persuaded the England captain there was only one way to go in 50-over cricket. There was no saving that tournament, but since then England have blazed a trail. It’s a narrative that is likely to be revisited over the next couple of weeks.
Thoughts are now turning towards the next World Cup, starting in 15 months in England. There is still time for some tinkering if it’s required, but teams will want to start having a firm idea of the 15 they will use at the tournament. Both teams are probably not far from that position already.
There is one notable addition to the England squad from last month with the return of Ben Stokes. Away from the debate about whether he should be on the tour or not, who makes way for his return will be one of the intriguing aspects of the series.
West Indies and Pakistan were disappointing opposition earlier in New Zealand’s season, while Australia hit a post-Ashes wall (and picked the wrong side) against England last month. This series promises a more compelling tussle.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
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In the spotlight
Apart from Ben Stokes, okay? Jason Roy started the one-day series in Australia with a bang, his 180 in Melbourne setting a new record for England, but since then his top score has been 49 including three single-figure scores in the T20 tri-series. Yes, mixing formats when looking at statistics is not really the done thing, but it’s all a little hit-or-miss for Roy at the moment. He appears safe despite Stokes’ return and the top-order rejig required, but a significant score early in the series wouldn’t go amiss.
This is an important series for Tom Latham who has yet to nail down the wicketkeeper-batsman role, a position New Zealand are struggling to fill in both white-ball formats since the retirement of Luke Ronchi. This season his top score is 37 in seven ODI innings – off the back of a very productive series in India – but he has been given the backing of selector Gavin Larsen (his wicketkeeping has been tidy) and this New Zealand set-up likes to give players an extended run. Still, they won’t want uncertainly over a key position leading into the World Cup.
Quick bowler Lockie Ferguson has been released from the squad to play in Saturday’s Ford Trophy final for Auckland. Mitchell Santner (knee) and Todd Astle (side) have carried recent injuries with Astle’s still providing the more pressing concern. If he isn’t fit then Ish Sodhi would slot into the side.
New Zealand 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Henry Nicholls, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Todd Astle, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult
Barring a late reaction to his workload, Stokes will return. That means a batsman making way, as England revert to six main bowlers, with Alex Hales seemingly the most vulnerable. Tom Curran and David Willey are likely to contest the final pace-bowling slot with Craig Overton having to wait for his chance.
England 1 Jason Roy, 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Tom Curran, 11 Mark Wood
Pitch and conditions
It will be a used surface and is expected to get slower as the match progresses. Seddon Park is a venue where spin can come to the fore, although that can be countered by evening dew making the toss a tricky decision. Last year, Martin Guptill plundered 180 off 138 balls to chase down 280 against South Africa with five overs to spare. The forecast for the afternoon and evening is good.
Stats and trivia
England have won eight of their last nine bilateral one-day series
Ross Taylor needs 37 runs to reach 7000 in ODIs; Kane Williamson needs 23 to reach 5000 – if he does it in this match the New Zealand captain will be joint fourth-fastest to 5000 runs equal with Brian Lara
England have lost both their ODIs at this venue: a 10-wicket trouncing in 2008 and a much tighter three-wicket loss in 2013.
“They went a long stretch of winning one-day international cricket so they are a strong side particularly at home and we are going to have reproduce similar performances or better than we produced in Australia to win the series.”
Eoin Morgan on New Zealand
“I think we park the T20 for now and focus on a lot of the good one-day cricket we’ve been playing. The plans are fairly different so it’s important we go back to that. We know it’s a tough challenge in England.”
Kane Williamson is keen to leave T20 form behind