The Ashes may be a distant memory but the spirit of cricket lives on and we’re in the midst of a fascinating few months of white-ball action. England endured a mixed T20 series against New Zealand and the pair are set to lock horns again this week.
With the ODI World Cup just around the corner, there’s still plenty that England can do to improve, while there may well be one or two spots in the squad to be filled.
As England went home for the evening last Friday, they’d have been forgiven for thinking they had their T20 series against New Zealand wrapped up. Two convincing wins at the Riverside Ground and Old Trafford had them 2-0 up and playing with confidence.
But things are never that easy with England. New Zealand came out firing in the third clash at Edgbaston and thanks to half centuries from Finn Allen and Glenn Phillips, they were too much for the hosts, despite captain Jos Buttler’s valiant efforts.
And the final match on Tuesday went to the visitors as well, with New Zealand levelling the series with an imperious six-wicket thrashing. Jonny Bairstow tried his best as he led the charge, smashing home an impressive 73 from 41 balls.
But following his dismissal, his team-mates failed to continue that momentum and once New Zealand’s spinners took charge, the wickets quickly fell. Despite a disappointing end to the series, England looked strong at points and they’ll be looking to take the positives as they gear up for a four-game ODI series against the same opponents.
And while their immediate attention will be on their next clash with the Kiwis and the imminent ODI World Cup, England will have one eye on the T20 World Cup. They’re the current holders and based on the evidence of the last week, they’ll need to improve massively if they want to defend their title in the United States and West Indies next summer.
It’s been a season of ups and downs in all cricket formats for Yorkshire batsman Brook. The 24-year-old impressed during England’s summer Ashes series against Australia before showing his class for the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred.
But Ben Stokes’ retirement U-turn saw Brook miss out on England’s provisional squad for the ODI World Cup. Not one to let setbacks derail his performances, Brook has continued to graft in recent weeks – and his perseverance may have paid off.
Following a 41-ball century in The Hundred, Brook recorded scores of 43 and 67 in the opening two T20 clashes with New Zealand. And he’s been given the chance to impress further after being added to the squad for the ODI series, which gets underway tomorrow.
England coach Matthew Mott says the door is still open for him to make the squad, with changes permitted up until 28th September. It’s now up to Brook to prove his worth and he’ll undoubtedly be relishing the opportunity, starting in Cardiff on Friday.
Following the T20 series, there’s no time to rest as England and New Zealand get straight back into the action. It’s the first time the Kiwis will take part in a 50-over on British soil since they lost in the World Cup final at Lord’s back in 2019 following a dramatic super over.
That day will live long in the memory, with the scores tied after 50 overs at 241 runs each, the game went to a one over showdown. Stokes and Buttler returned to the crease for England, managing 15 runs for England from 6 balls.
Spectacularly New Zealand also managed 15 runs from their super over, meaning the decider was the amount of boundaries scored in bth teams innings, with England clinching the World Cup after having 26 boundaries to the Kiwi’s 17.
Ben Stokes, the man of the match that day, has reversed his ODI retirement to make a comeback for the upcoming games so it is expected he will also be in the World Cup squad, trying to recreate his heroics again.
Both sides will be looking to knock themselves into form ahead of the next World Cup, which gets underway in India on 5th October.
As well as Brook, Brydon Carse is also looking to stake a claim for the squad having initially been left out. The 28-year-old impressed in the T20 series, taking four wickets in the opening two matches.
● Friday 8th September – Sophia Gardens, Cardiff
● Sunday 10th September – The Ageas Bowl, Southampton
● Wednesday 13th September – Kia Oval, London
● Friday 15th September – Lord’s London
Following the four-day series against New Zealand, England will take on Ireland over three matches before heading out to India with ambitions of retaining their World Cup crown.
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