Hot on the heels of the Test series between the two sides come three one day games, with each side looking to gain an advantage ahead of the coming Champions Trophy. Richard O’Hagan looks forward to the contest.
There’s something deliciously old-fashioned about this one day series. Limited to three games and following hard on the heels of the Test series, it is a throwback to the 1980s, when such games routinely began to be tagged onto the end of tours in the hope of making some additional money. Now, of course, the games are big draws and will on this occasion serve as an appetiser for the Champions Trophy to come.
Another similarity with those old days, at least from England’s point of view, is that their team for this format of the game will be largely the one which took part in the Test series. The only two to miss out are wicket-keeper Matt Prior (despite many protests, none of them from him) and opening bat Nick Compton. Their places in the side will go to Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler, but it is easy to see England starting all three games with the other nine players.
New Zealand, on the other hand, will be significantly changed. That England have pretty much the same side is mere happenstance; the rest of the world still tends to have more one-day specialists in their one day side than the hosts do. One intriguing result of this is that the Black Caps’ wicket-keeper will be likely to be Luke Ronchi, who has had to re-qualify to play for the land of his birth after previously playing a single one day game for Australia.
When the two sides met in February, England edged a 2-1 victory in the series. New Zealand ran them close in the two games but a lot of that was down to the brilliant batting of captain Brendon McCullum. He will find it harder to do that in English conditions, not least because his game is so predicated upon hitting the ball over the infield. On the smaller New Zealand ground such shots were going for six. On England’s bigger playing fields they may not even reach the boundary.
England will, of course, go into the series bouyed by the surprising ease of their Test series win. However, they cannot afford to become complacent - there were times when their batsmen were sorely tested by the New Zealand swing bowlers, whilst even on the final morning of the sexond game there were some worrying failings in the bowling plan, not least of which was Steven Finn’s attempt to bounce out Tim Southee, the one New Zealander with a record of quick, aggressive batting in England (albeit whilst playing for Essex rather than his country).
England are currently odds on to win the series at 4/9 with SkyBet. New Zealand are at best 2/1 through the betting odds at Bet365. The more likely result, though, could be a drawn series. It is easy to see each side taking one of these games, and the weather forecast for the next week is still poor enough to suggest that all games could be rain-affected with at least one being washed out altogether. The best price you’ll get on a drawn series is Evens with Betfair, but don’t be shy to back it with your sports picks, as even money is still making money.