England unsealed their prospectus for limited overs cricket at Edgbaston to great effect with a stunning 210 run victory over New Zealand today. For the World cup runner-up, this was a bringing back down to earth job on a pitch of devilish intentions for bowlers.
When Yorkshire’s Joe Root reached a century in the 24th over, it had to take something special to highjack that but Root’s Red Rose rival Jos Buttler’s hurricane was just that. England batsmen tormented and crippled a startled New Zealand attack. The offerings were ordinary at best, hampered by the absence of Tim Southee and Corey Anderson, Mitchell McClenaghan delivering the first yorker of the innings in the 48th over. However, that can take nothing away from a helter-skelter parade of stroke play. For now, England has delivered on their promissory note to entertain, with some of county cricket’s leading names at the forefront.
The measure of the announcement was such that rewriting of records became compulsory. This was England’s highest ODI total, the partnership between Buttler and Adil Rashid for the seventh wicket, which yielded 177 runs off 111 balls, is a world record and Buttler put himself in the second place of the fastest hundreds scored by a England batsman as he could not better his own record (off 61 balls) by five balls. Root’s effort off 71 balls stands at 4th. The victory margin is the largest in England’s history.
New Zealand, chasing a mammoth 409, put up a dispirited reply which was epitomized by the meek surrender of Brendon McCullum. Reproducing the lasting image of the World Cup final, he gave the charge to Steven Finn and was castled. Quite a contrast from Finn’s experience at Wellington. Derbyshire’s Martin Guptill and Yorkshire’s Kane Williamson kept the rate going before Guptill edged Finn, who has been featuring for Middlesex in a bid to regain his Test place, for 22.
Ross Taylor, guilty of dropping a dolly which gave a reprieve to red-hot Buttler, fought in vein. Rashid followed up his pyrotechnics (69 off 50 balls) with four wickets, breaking the nexus of New Zealand’s middle order. Finn was back to his pacy best taking four wickets in the process.
However, everything didn’t go England’s way. Surrey’s Jason Roy was at the end of a nightmare start to his international career, slapping Trent Boult’s loosener, first ball of the match, straight to short cover. Root calmed the nerves and along with Alex Hales started a counter punch which shook the visitors.
Hales continued his agenda of impressing but not carrying on, mistiming a pull into the lap of short fine leg. Eoin Morgan, desperately in need of runs after an un-wealthy period at the helm, commenced shakily but was given a lift in life by Nathan McCullum who toss one up. Morgan took the liberty to get out of the sanctuary he was in depositing the ball over the stands thus entering a phase of error-free batting. Root survived a rare drop of luck edging the ball between Luke Ronchi and first slip Ross Taylor to reach his half-century.
When things seemed smooth, having rapped up 121 for the third wicket, Morgan who moments ago reached a defining half-century was trapped in front by Mitchell McClenaghan. Morgan’s review was more in hope than wisdom and replays vindicated Michael Gough’s initial verdict.
Root galloped to his century in the 24th over to the roar of an appreciative crowd gathered at Edgbaston to witness the new era of English limited-overs cricket. If the intentions were to be trusted, it’s bound to be entertaining. More of a polar opposite of Peter Moores’ school of building an innings for a late flourish. However, the flaws began surfacing soon. Maturity was tested when Root fell.
Ben Stokes and Buttler had a rebuilding job at hand but Stokes’ instincts got the better of him. Boult got him to inside edge a delivery on to the stumps. To England’s credit and this could be a little leaflet on their long term approach from here on in, they never stopped playing their shots.
Wickets falling around was felt as if an inconvenience rather than a mood of fear. Kent’s Sam Billings lost the debutants battle to Mitchell Santner, who had him LBW for 3. But Rashid and Buttler went on.
If the carnival atmosphere inside Edgbaston was any indication, the England fans have already approved of the new lease of life. The popularity is England’s to lose.