In between the two there is the 50 over a side format, which varies greatly in how seriously people take it. While the ICC still struggles to give it, and international rankings, some context there seem to be a lot of context free bilateral tournaments.
But then there is the World Cup; easily the most prestigious global trophy in the sport. This means that ODI series preceding it suddenly seem a lot more important.
This was the first of 11 ODIs in New Zealand which, in effect, are trial matches leading up to the selection of the 15 who will go to England in June.
In terms of a starting XI you would think it would be Munro, Guptill, Williamson, Taylor and Latham (wk) at the top.
After that it’s a bit more fluid with only Santner (although he needs to come back from a lay-off longer than Guptill’s) and Boult probable starters.
There is a lot of juggling in terms of both balancing a bowling attack with some mid-to-lower hitting when filling the remaining slots in the XV.
But each of these matches are likely to produce subtle tweaks in the rankings, and the odd new theory. Case in point today; Munro’s 13 off 14.
There is a developing theory that perhaps Williamson could open with Guptill at the World Cup should Munro’s struggles to produce innings more suited to ODIs than T20s continue. So maybe the top order isn’t set in stone after all.
Today Guptill played his first ODI in almost 10 months and it was like he had never been away. Williamson, if anything, looked in even more control before getting out when it seemed blatantly obvious he was in for a big century. That’s not the first time that’s happened on this tour.
There was a cracker of a knock from Taylor who seemed to enjoy the challenge of scoring as quickly as he could without fear of being dismissed. And then there was the return of Jimmy Neesham.
Thisal Parera had previously been the most disciplined of the Sri Lankan bowlers, but in the 49th over he completely lost his radar and Neesham liked that Welcome Back to ODI cricket and helped himself to just the 34 off the over.
Then chat started around whether he would challenge for the fastest 50 in ODIs (16 balls; AB De Villiers). In the end he made 47* off 13.
Jimmy Neesham innings:
2 1 6 6 6 6 2 6 2 1 2 6
— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) January 3, 2019
But the main question mark about Neesham’s inclusion has never been concerning his batting. Tonight’s bowling performance, if it can be produced consistently, makes a huge difference to the balance of the side.
The rest of the bowling was less polished. Matt Henry bowled as if he hadn’t bowled in a match for over two months, and the others bowled OK but still offered too many four balls against a side knowing it had to attack.
The tactic to bowl a legside line to the left handers was presumably an intentional one, but it didn’t work. It was the left handers who dominated, and a lot of it was behind square on the legside.
Another thing they might like to work on is the process for when deciding to call for a DRS.