England and New Zealand renew brilliant white-ball rivalry
England have edged Black Caps on more than one occasion over the last few years; watch the next instalment from 12.30am on Friday
Last Updated: 31/10/19 11:22am
So, here we go again. England vs New Zealand. The cricket gift that keeps on giving.
Around three-and-a-half months after that spellbinding World Cup final at Lord's, which England won on boundary countback after the scores had been tied after both the regulation 50 overs and the subsequent Super Over, the two sides are locking horns again in limited-overs cricket.
This time, though, it is in the 20-over format, with the first of five internationals taking place in Christchurch on Friday - live from 12.30am on Sky Sports Cricket - before further games in Wellington (Sunday), Nelson (November 5), Napier (Nov 8) and Auckland (Nov 10).
As we know from Ian Smith's superb commentary, England beat the Black Caps to the World Cup by the "barest of all margins", Jos Buttler removing the bails as Martin Guptill tried in vain to slide in his bat.
But it was defeat by an extraordinary margin to New Zealand in the 2015 World Cup - an eight-wicket trouncing in Wellington coming as Brendon McCullum's brutal 25-ball 77 took the hosts to their paltry target of 123 with 226 balls to spare - that acted as a catalyst for England to revolutionise their white-ball cricket and make this summer's triumph possible.
Along the way, New Zealand - the side whose aggressive, positive approach they were inspired by - have proved frequent and formidable foes.
The Kiwis travelled to England in the summer of 2015 with Kane Williamson now one-day captain for a scintillating series in which Eoin Morgan's side topped 400 for the first time and a staggering total of 3,151 runs were scored by the teams combined as England emerged 3-2 victors.
England drew first blood, shrugging off the exit of Jason Roy for a first-ball duck to drum 408 from their 50 overs with Buttler cracking a 66-ball hundred and Joe Root hitting a century from 71 deliveries. Adil Rashid chipped in with a quick-fire 69 before he and Steve Finn claimed four wickets apiece as New Zealand were torpedoed for 198 inside 32 overs.
The Kiwis responded in the rain-affected second game at The Oval but, as we have become accustomed in clashes between these teams, it was nip-and-tuck stuff, with England falling only 14 runs short of their revised target of 379 in 46 overs after finishing on 365-9.
That total - in which Morgan walloped 88 from 47 balls - was England's then-highest score batting second in an ODI and has only been topped on that front since by the 366-8 they racked up against in Cuttack in 2017 when, once again, Morgan (102) came to the fore.
England's T20Is in New Zealand
- 1st T20I - 1am, Friday, Nov 1
- 2nd T20I - 1am, Sunday, Nov 3
- 3rd T20I - 1am, Tuesday, Nov 5
- 4th T20I - 5am, Friday, Nov 8
- 5th T20I - 1am, Sunday, Nov 10
Morgan coming to the fore was a staple of the 2015 series against New Zealand, the captain ending the five games with 322 runs at 64.40 after nailing a century and three fifties.
The left-hander hit 71 in defeat at The Ageas Bowl as New Zealand moved 2-1 up thanks to centuries from Ross Taylor, for the second game running, and Williamson.
Morgan was unfazed by England failing to bat out their innings, insisting the fact they had "taken overs out of the equation" showed they would never take a backward step.
That approach - forced as it at may have been with New Zealand posting 349-7 - came up trumps at Trent Bridge a few days later with Morgan (113) and Root (106no) leading England to their then-highest successful ODI run chase. It was trumped twice in 2019, against West Indies and Pakistan.
So, 2-2 it was heading to a Durham decider, which England prevailed in as Jonny Bairstow - a late call-up for the injured Buttler - smote an unbeaten 83 from 60 deliveries to settle a rain-affected encounter.
Bairstow was a bit-part white-ball player back then but by the time he settled another ODI series between England and New Zealand, in Christchurch in March 2018, and Morgan's side won 3-2 once again, he was one of the first names on the team sheet.
The Yorkshireman's second ODI hundred in a row came from just 58 balls as England overhauled New Zealand's 223 all out, in which Bairstow also took a spectacular running one-handed catch on the boundary, in under 33 overs.
Bairstow could have been forgiven for thinking his ton a few days previous in Dunedin would have wrapped up the series there and then - England headed into the fourth ODI 2-1 up and then progressed to 267-1 as Bairstow and Root reached three figures.
However, Morgan's men then suffered a staggering collapse to 335-9 before Taylor, braving a thigh injury, notched a stunning 181 not out from 147 balls, to take his side home with three balls to spare and earn hearty praise from Sky Sports' Rob Key.
"That Taylor innings was one of the best knocks I've ever seen and would be in the top 10 one-day knocks of all time, for sure," mused Rob. "You simply can't fault his courage and mental toughness; the series was on the line, as well as the game, so it was a tremendous effort."
Taylor had also helped win the opening ODI of that series with a century in Hamilton but was run out for just 10 in the second as the Black Caps were rolled for 223 due to England's ruthless bowling and fielding, Ben Stokes' unbeaten 63 then steering the away side to victory inside 38 overs.
England moved ahead in the third ODI in Wellington after Chris Woakes thwarted the ice-cool Williamson in the final over.
New Zealand required 15 from six balls with Williamson, unbeaten on 102, on strike and fancied their chances as the equation became seven from three once the Kiwi captain flogged a flat six over deep midwicket.
Woakes, though, kept his nerve - a two into the leg side was followed by two dot deliveries as New Zealand ended on 230-8 in reply to England's 234. A close finish going England's way against New Zealand. Sounds familiar…
They are a great bunch of fellas but naturally what happened at Lord's is going to be quite tough for those guys and there will be a fire in their belly and a hunger to put things right.
Jonny Bairstow on New Zealand
Many of the protagonists from England and New Zealand's recent ODI encounters are missing for this T20 series. Root, Buttler, Stokes and Jofra Archer have been rested by England, while Williamson will be absent for New Zealand as he nurses a hip injury.
But Guptill - whose heart-breaking World Cup final included throwing the ball in from the deep that deflected off Stokes' bat and flew away for a six that should have been five - Taylor, Morgan and Bairstow are four of those that are around.
That quartet knows New Zealand vs England never disappoints. And there's no reason to believe this series will be any different. Strap yourselves in.
Watch the first Twenty20 international between New Zealand and England live on Sky Sports Cricket from 12.30am on Friday.