A month ago much was made of New Zealand’s poor start to the tour of England, and the impact of the IPL in the build-up. In the end it was the final week when things fell apart. The last two ODIs were lost as we learnt the 350 is not a defendable score in this new wold of F50 cricket, followed by a loss in the sole T20 match.
It would be strange to label the tour a failure following a T20 loss, but there does seem to be a bit of that around.
New Zealand normally beats England in short-form cricket, and demolished them in the World Cup, so that is where the surprise / outrage factor comes from. But this England side was demonstrably different from the dispirited rabble that never turned up for the World Cup. It is pretty ungracious to refuse to acknowledge that.
Having said that, some key absentees had more of an impact that you would expect from a side building depth. Boult’s absence from the last part of the tour was crucial, but remember he was not part of this side six months ago. Vettori’s stealth was missed but, World Cup aside inclusive of the build-up, he has not featured for the last two years.
The holes were exposed by the strange and significant drop-off in form of World Cup reserves Nathan McCullum and Mitchell McClennaghan which led to too much being expected from the debutants.
And the absence of Anderson (and Neesham) meant that Santner started off his career playing slightly out of position. As an aside, can we please curb the Vettori comparisons just a bit?
This could well be the end of the F50 / T20 road for a range of players here. The rumours about Brendon McCullum giving up this form of the game seem to have risen to a level where they are more than rumours. At the very least you can be pretty sure he won’t be making the late winter tour to Africa.
His brother has slipped down the rankings, will not be around for the next World Cup, and there will be the temptation to see how Mark Craig goes in these forms of the game. Two other players who will not be around in 2019 are Elliott and Ronchi. The drums have been beating for Watling to be trialled down the order and this would be as good a time as any.
Watling is also the most likely candidate to fill Elliott’s innings closing role at number 5. The hero of Eden Park did not have a bad tour as such, but his most likely role in the future is handing over to the next intake of players. And it is becoming increasingly clear that that intake is unlikely to include Colin Munro.
We have now officially drawn a line under the 2015 Cricket World Cup era.